COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Kam Williams scored 22 points as Ohio State coasted past Grambling 82-55 on Tuesday night.
That’s not what the sophomore guard focused on in the postgame interview room, though.
“I want to attribute that to my defense,” he said. “I felt like I was active. I was locked in.”
The Buckeyes (2-0) used a 14-0 run to open up a 31-11 lead a little more than 12 minutes into the first half and never looked back.
Williams had 5 points and three steals during the spurt – to the pleasure of coach Thad Matta.
“We talked about was there are a lot of different ways you can affect a basketball game other than making shots,” Matta said of conversations with Williams and fellow reserve guard A.J. Harris. “I thought at the beginning (Williams) might have missed his first couple of 3s but he got steals on defense, he had an unbelievable play on help-side (defense) when they ran a high-low play and I think that just kind of ignited him just in terms of playing better.”
Williams had a 9-for-12 shooting night from the floor and made 3 of 5 3-pointers while also snaring five rebounds.
“I was using my athleticism on defense and that got me going offensively,” he said. “My job is to bring energy off the bench and whatever my role is, I’m just going to follow what coach says.”
Joining Williams to give Ohio State a three-pronged scoring attack were forwards Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop, who scored 14 points apiece.
The Buckeyes shot 58.8 percent from the floor, making 30 of 51 shots, while holding the visitors to 34.7 percent (17 for 49).
Grambling had four players score in double figures as Remond Brown and Nigel Ribeiro had 12 points apiece and Ervin Mitchell and Ulgur Hortum each scored 10.
Ohio State led 44-20 after a sometimes ragged first half that included a combined 25 fouls, including 15 on the visitors.
The Buckeyes shot 53.6 percent from the first half, including making 5 of 14 3-pointers, while putting the clamps on the Tigers, who shot 28.6 percent from the field and made only 1 of 6 3s.
Grambling (1-2) also committed 13 turnovers in the first half leading to 18 Ohio State points, and the Buckeyes turned their 8 offensive rebounds into 13 points.
Bates-Diop started the decisive 14-0 run with a jumper at the 12:11 mark and Harris had the last basket with a 3-pointer with 7:50 to go before the break.
Grambling: The Tigers were outscored 36-18 in the paint but had a 10-4 advantage in fast-break points.
Ohio State: Jaquan Lyle, replacing NBA first-round draft pick D’Angelo Russell at point guard for the Buckeyes, was not flashy but certainly got the job done setting up his teammates. The 6-foot-5 freshman dished out seven assists in 23 minutes.
ON THE DOWNSIDE
Ohio State won in a romp, but Matta admitted there were two things he didn’t like. The Buckeyes made only 13 of 26 free throws, and they committed 17 turnovers that led to 23 Grambling points.
HAPPY AT HOME
Ohio State picked up its 108th home win (in 118 games) since the start of the 2009-10 season, a mark that leads the nation according to the Ohio State sports information department. Kentucky entered the night No. 2 with 104 home wins in 108 games over the same span.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Grambling coach Shawn Walker, whose team went 2-27 last year with no victories in Southwestern Conference play, had a simple explanation for why he would want to bring his team to Ohio State to play against a power-conference team.
“You’re always 40 minutes away from being the biggest story in college basketball.”
Grambling plays at Memphis on Thursday night.
Ohio State hosts UT-Arlington on Friday night.