Buckeyes bounce Bryant behind Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 19 points in first game of Gotham Classic

Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored a team-high 19 points in a 86-48 rout of Bryant at Value City Arena in Columbus, Wednesday night.

Amir Williams #23 of the Ohio State Buckeyes slam dunks two points in the first half against the Bryant Bulldogs on December 11, 2013 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Amir Williams #23 of the Ohio State Buckeyes slam dunks two points in the first half against the Bryant Bulldogs on December 11, 2013 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Smith Jr. finished the game 6-of-9 shooting from the field and was 2-of-4 from three-point range with eight rebounds, three assists and just one turnover.

“I think Lenzelle is playing at a very high level,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after the game. “He is a complete basketball player. His defense goes unnoticed except by me. His assist-to-turnover rate is a lot better and he is having a great senior season.”

Buckeyes only led by seven at 25-18 with 8:42 left in the first half after Bryant’s Dan Garvin drained a three-pointer. But Ohio State closed out the opening period on a 18-5 run as the Bulldogs went scoreless over the last 5:25 of the half and OSU was up 43-23 at intermission.

It was more of the same in the second half as Bryant was never able to get within 20 points after the break. Ohio State led by as many as 38 on four different occasions, which was the margin of the final score.

Of the 10 Buckeyes that saw action against the Bulldogs, all scored at least four points, though the only other Buckeyes to notch double figures was junior center Amir Williams, who had 12 points, a team-high nine rebounds and six blocked shots.

“Coach Matta told me to come out and be aggressive early on, so that’s what I tried to do,” Williams said afterwards. “I came out aggressive and with a lot of energy. I tried to help the team get going and we just took off from there.”

Junior forward LaQuinton Ross and freshman forward Marc Loving both scored 9 points. Senior guard Aaron Craft, junior center Trey McDonald and sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle each netted 7. Junior guard Shannon Scott and junior forward Jake Lorbach both contributed six points, while junior forward Sam Thompson had four.

The Buckeyes shot 52.5 percent (32-61) for the game, their fourth-consecutive game shooting better than 50 percent as a team. The last time OSU hit on half its shots over a four game stretch was in 2008-09 (Michigan State, Michigan, at Indiana, Purdue). Ohio State also hit 40.0 percent (8-20) from beyond the arc and was 14-of-20 (70.0%) from the free throw line.

Up next, Ohio State hosts North Dakota State on Saturday. Tip-off at Value City Arena is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on BTN.