In the last non-conference contest before Big Ten play begins, No. 3 Ohio State scored the game’s first 12 points and rolled to a 71-31 win over the Warhawks from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Friday night.
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. posted a game-high 17 points with seven boards. Sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle added 14 as the Buckeyes went a perfect 13-0 during the non-league portion of the slate before Big Ten action begins next Tuesday.
“We have 18 battles coming up and the war is decided in March. From the standpoint of the challenges of that lie ahead, it’s what the guys sign up for when they come to Ohio State,” Buckeyes’ head coach Thad Matta said on the upcoming start of conference play.
The Buckeyes opened the game on a 12-0 run and held a 25-4 advantage after Smith Jr. drained a triple with 10:45 left until intermission.
Ohio State led 41-20 at the break.
In the second half, no Warhawk starter saw any playing time and ULM didn’t get its first points of the second stanza until Chinedu Amajoyi made a pair of free throws with 10:41 remaining that made the score 56-22 in favor of the Buckeyes.
“At the end of the day, the only way to make things happen is by playing hard,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said after the game. “I’m about tired of it. It’s been going on at certain times during different games. Sometimes it’s at the start of the second half, sometimes at the start of the first half and I’m just tired of it. Those guys just aren’t going to play. We’re not in a good place right now obviously after the last two ball games, mentally or physically. This is why we have 13 guys though who can play and some of those guys played hard.”
For the game, Ohio State was 23-of-52 (44.2%) from the field, 8-of-23 (34.8%) from three-point range, and 17-of-20 (85.0%) from the free throw line. ULM was 10-of-54 (18.5%) from the floor, 3-of-18 (16.7%) from beyond the arc, and 8-of-9 (88.9%) from the charity stripe.
Up next, Ohio State travels to West Lafayette to take on Purdue on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Tip-off at Mackey Arena is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.