Central Connecticut State vs Ohio State

Ross has 23, No. 5 Buckeyes take care of CCSU


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the first four games of the season, just about everybody was playing well for Ohio State except LaQuinton Ross.

On Saturday, he was one of the few Buckeyes who had a good game -- and it made a world of difference.

Ross scored four of his career-high 23 points in a 10-0 second-half run, leading No. 5 Ohio State past Central Connecticut State 74-56.

"I knew I was going to come around eventually," Ross said after hitting 9 of 13 shots from the field and adding six rebounds and an assist. "I've been playing basketball all my life. Everybody goes through situations, struggles, out there on the court. It was just something I had to get through. I knew I would get through it eventually."

After shooting 22 percent from the field at the start of the season, Ross is shooting 63 percent over his last three games.

On a day when the Buckeyes (8-0) were lethargic at both ends, his shooting kept them in the lead and eventually put the game out of reach.

"Our mindset wasn't right," said Lenzelle Smith, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half. "It was just us. We weren't ready to play when we came out of the tunnel."

The Blue Devils (2-6) certainly were. Their 3-2 zone befuddled the Buckeyes. They got back quickly to snuff Ohio State's transition game. And they took their time on offense, working for good shots while shooting 46 percent for the game.

"We came in here knowing Ohio State is as good as any team in the country," coach Howie Dickenman said. "We wanted to gain some respect; I thought we gained some respect."

The Buckeyes had won the only previous meeting between the teams in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament. The top-ranked Buckeyes, behind Greg Oden's 19 points and 10 rebounds, beat the Blue Devils 78-57. Ohio State would advance to the national championship game, losing to defending champion Florida.

The Blue Devils scored six of the last eight points in the first half to cut a 14-point deficit to 38-29.

"It was sarcasm and angry at the same time," Ross said of coach Thad Matta's halftime talk in the locker room. "He tried to keep cool because he feels like we're a veteran team and some of the mistakes we were making we shouldn't have made. I know for a fact he was upset. I think the whole team knew it."

Ahead 38-29 at the break, the Buckeyes had difficulty finishing off the pesky Blue Devils.

The lead hovered around 10 points until Ohio State broke free from a 49-41 lead with a quick run. It started with a steal by Amedeo Della Valle that led to Smith's dunk. After a CCSU miss, Sam Thompson hit a baseline jumper and, following a Blue Devils turnover, Aaron Craft fought through the traffic in the lane for a spinning layup that made it 55-41 -- matching Ohio State's biggest lead to that point.

Soon after, the Buckeyes forced a shot-clock violation and Ross muscled inside for a bucket. He then stole the ball near midcourt and drove coast to coast for another layup and an 18-point lead.

The Blue Devils never seriously threatened again.

Faronte Drakeford led them with 12 points and Matt Mobley added 10.

CCSU outrebounded the Buckeyes 29-28 and didn't back down in the paint at either end.

Matta said he hoped his team gained from the game.

"Honestly, I said this is one we have to learn from it, but by the same token you have to wash it down the drain in the shower," he said he told the team afterward. "We must be a better basketball team (in our next game) than we were today."

A crowd of 13,640 was as reserved as the Buckeyes most of the game. Maybe it was the lack of students, a midlevel opponent, the frosty weather outside or Ohio State's impending Big Ten football championship game on Saturday night, but there were long stretches when the crowd was relatively quiet.

Smith was asked if he would be watching the Buckeyes' second-ranked football team go for the conference title in Indianapolis against Michigan State.

"Absolutely!" he said with a laugh.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
LaQuinton Ross snaps out of his early season funk with a career-high 23 points in Ohio State's victory.  (USATSI)
LaQuinton Ross snaps out of his early season funk with a career-high 23 points in Ohio State's victory. (USATSI)
Central Connecticut State (2-6)292756
Ohio State #5 (8-0) «383674
CCTST:F. Drakeford 12 Pts
CCTST:M. Hunter 6 Reb
CCTST:K. Vinales 4 Ast
OHIOST:L. Ross 23 Pts
OHIOST:L. Ross 6 Reb
OHIOST:S. Scott 4 Ast

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Central Connecticut StateOhio State
Faronte Drakeford
LaQuinton Ross
Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
F. Drakeford, F326-100-050412
K. Cumberlander, G304-80-02018
M. Hunter, G304-70-06239
M. McMillan, G253-50-04147
B. Peel, F181-40-02022
M. Mobley, G311-38-812010
K. Vinales, G274-120-02428
T. Allen, F70-10-03000
D. Speech, GDid Not Play
G. Andrade, GDid Not Play
A. Hurd, GDid Not Play
K. Mickle, FDid Not Play
J. Newmen, FDid Not Play
A. Wilson, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-508-82591656
Ohio State Buckeyes
A. Craft, G363-50-04227
S. Scott, G333-41-44427
L. Smith Jr., G316-122-231217
L. Ross, F309-135-661023
A. Williams, C185-71-240011
S. Thompson, F223-60-02146
A. Della Valle, G140-72-22012
M. Loving, F100-11-20101
T. McDonald, C60-00-01010
A. Goldstein, GDid Not Play
J. Lorbach, FDid Not Play
K. Williams, GDid Not Play
Totals 29-5512-1826101274
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Robert Morris6-112-8144
St. Fran.-Pa.4-310-8145
Mt St Marys4-310-10252
St. Fran.-NY4-37-12284
Sacred Heart2-57-13331
F. Dickinson2-55-13287

Big Ten
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Ohio St.7-016-419
Michigan St.5-217-330
Penn St.3-413-7130
Other games
HBU 53 Final
MICH 107
UCLA 71 Final
ULL 74 Final
LOU 113
NWST 76 Final
BYU 96 Final
MASS 105
MU 64 Final
KAN 72 Final
UNLV 58 Final
NOVA 98 Final
NIOWA 82 Final
BING 65 Final
SYR 93
ORAL 58 Final
DAYT 75 Final
DRKE 66 Final
NMST 68 Final