No. 7 Buckeyes Sprint To Win Over Asheville
Sam Thompson scored a career-high 18 points and No. 7 Ohio State made the most of an opportunity to get out and run to beat UNC Asheville 90-72 on Saturday.
Deshaun Thomas had 17 points, Lenzelle Smith Jr. 16 and Evan Ravenel tied a career best with 12 points in the first half for the Buckeyes (8-1), who tuned up for a big showdown next Saturday against No. 9 Kansas with the fourth game in an eight-game homestand.
Keith Hornsby, son of Grammy-winning singer and pianist Bruce Hornsby, had a career-high 26 points for Asheville (3-7), which had won its previous two games heading into a tough three-game road trip.
Hornsby, with his father watching from behind the Asheville bench, hit 9 of 12 shots from the field including 6 of 8 3-pointers, made both of his free throws and added five rebounds and an assist. Will Weeks added 14 points and Jeremy Atkinson 11
Asheville was coming off wins over Montreat (85-51) and Lenoir-Rhyne (66-55) - but that's a far cry from playing a Top 10-team.
The Bulldogs tried to get out and run with Ohio State - a tactic that clearly did not work. After playing a series of games against teams that preferred to slow the pace and dig in on defense, the Buckeyes welcomed the faster pace.
They scored on 14 of 19 possessions during one span in the first half and took a 50-35 lead.
They would have been up even more if not for Hornsby, who had 18 points in the opening half while hitting all but one of his eight shots from the field - including 4 of 5 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes had three in double figures with Ravenel scoring all of his points. Smith had 11 and Thomas 10 as Ohio State hurried the ball down the floor and frequently scored in transition.
Hornsby had five early points as the Bulldogs trailed 11-7 in the opening few minutes. Then Thomas hit a 3, Smith slashed through the heart of the defense for a layup and Thompson dunked off a fast break pass from Shannon Scott to make it 18-8.
The lead remained near double figures until Ravenel muscled in a shot inside and then hit a 12-foot jumper to make it 40-27.
With the game still played at a fast pace, the Buckeyes pulled away in the early stages of the second half.
Thompson scored seven points as Ohio State ripped off 15 of the first 18 points in the opening minutes to widen the advantage to 65-38. The Bulldogs never pulled close again.
The loudest cheer of the day came with 6:44 left when Thompson took a long pass behind the defense and threw down a windmill dunk that brought the Ohio State bench to its feet.
Thanks to all of those layups, the Buckeyes shot 59 percent from the field (36 of 61).
Hornsby's previous career high was 23 earlier this season against another top team, North Carolina State. The Bulldogs hung around in that big intrastate showdown before falling 82-80 on Nov. 23.
Ohio State, two-time defending champ of the Big Ten, improved to 14-0 against teams from the Big South while Asheville, the two-time defending champion of the conference, dropped to 0-14 against teams from the Big Ten.
Before the game there was a moment of silence for the victims of the shootings on Friday at an elementary school in Connecticut that left 26 dead, including 20 children.