COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — No. 18 Ohio State hopes the latest tuneup game will have its young players ready to go against a top 10 team this week.
The Buckeyes routed UMass-Lowell 76-56 on Sunday to take a 2-0 record into an early season matchup with No. 10 Villanova at home Wednesday night.
“Villanova is a blue-blood program, and I think Jay (Wright) is one of the top two or three coaches in the country,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said. “This is a quick turnaround for us. It will be a great challenge.”
The Buckeyes will need solid games from their talented freshmen. The best of them, guard D.J. Carton, had 13 points on Sunday.
Ohio State shrugged off a slow start against overmatched UMass-Lowell (1-2) and grabbed the lead for good seven minutes into the game.
The Buckeyes eventually led by as many as 31 points in the second half before the River Hawks cut the final margin to 20. UMass-Lowell shot just 33 percent from the floor and 22 percent from beyond the arc.
Kaleb Wesson had a one-handed jam off an E.J. Liddell lob before Wesson returned the favor by dishing to Liddell after tracking down an errant pass. Wesson’s crosscourt assist to Carton for a 3 gave Ohio State its 13-point halftime lead. Ohio State went on a 21-9 run to open the second half.
Ohio State had five players in double figures on Sunday against overmatched UMass-Lowell, led by Carton and Wesson with 13 points each.
Wesson also had 13 rebounds and five assists. Luther Muhammad added 11 points, while Alonzo Gaffney and Kyle Young each added 10.
The Buckeyes played without senior forward Andre Wesson, who suffered an eye injury in the team’s win over Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
His brother, Kaleb Wesson, already had a double-double by halftime. He had tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists as the Buckeyes built a 38-25 halftime lead.
Obadiah Noel led UMass-Lowell (1-2) with 15 points, and Connor Withers had 10.
“I give our guys credit,” Holtmann said. “I thought they attacked our defensive game plan with good urgency.”
HITTING THE WALL
It was a tough game for UMass-Lowell guard Christian Lutete, who was coming off a 51-point outburst in the River Hawks’ victory over LIU-Brooklyn on Friday. He finished with just nine points on 4-for-12 shooting.
UMass-Lowell: The River Hawks have a veteran squad and could be a team to watch in the America East this season. But they couldn’t stay with the more-talented Buckeyes.
“This was a great game for us and our players,” UMass-Lowell coach Jay Duquette said. “We did some good things and learned some things about ourselves today. Ohio State was really unselfish. The ball moves with them, and they make the right play.”
Ohio State: Buckeyes get plenty of contributions against an overmatched team. A better gauge of where they are early will come against Villanova.
“We are always excited for our next opponent, but this is a top-10 opponent,” Kaleb Wesson said. “But this is about us. If we come in with the right mindset and work hard and prepare, I feel like we’ll be in a good position to win the game.”
UMass-Lowell: Hosts UMass-Boston on Tuesday night.
Ohio State: Hosts No. 10 Villanova on Wednesday night.