COLUMBUS, Ohio — Playing its first game under its new coach, Ohio State looked invigorated in front of its home fans as it picked up its first win of the season against Robert Morris.
Keita Bates-Diop had 19 points and 11 rebounds to help the Buckeyes beat the Colonials 95-64 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
“Like good players and good teams, they take advantage of you when you’re relaxed or you don’t have the proper urgency,” Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said. “And I think every time we did that, (Bates-Diop) took complete advantage.”
Kam Williams scored 16 points, Kaleb Wesson added 13 and seven rebounds and Musa Jallow scored 11 points, including three dunks.
Williams hit a 3-pointer during a 14-2 run that gave Ohio State an 18-8 with 12:16 remaining in the first half and the Buckeyes led by at least eight points the rest of the way.
“Ohio State started to build a lead, and then unfortunately we reverted a little bit to trying to make a homerun play, trying to make that eight-, nine-, 10-point play, and those things don’t happen,” Toole said.
The overmatched Colonials struggled to hit shots and deal with Ohio State’s size. The Buckeyes shot 60 percent from the field, outscored the Colonials 66-18 in the paint and outrebounded them 51-23. Robert Morris shot just 35 percent from the field.
Jae’Sean Tate, who led the Buckeyes in scoring last season at 14.3 per game, finished with seven points and seven rebounds. He had six of Ohio State’s 19 turnovers. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said his team’s 19 turnovers were his “overriding thought” following the 31-point victory.
“They forced us into some things and then we had some foolish plays as well,” Holtmann said.
Matty McConnell and freshman Koby Thomas scored 22 points apiece and combined to hit 7 of 13 from 3-point range for Robert Morris.
Ohio State: Holtmann, who was hired in June to replace the fired Thad Matta, picked up his first win as Ohio State coach and Bates-Diop returned from a stress fracture that caused him to miss the final 21 games of last season.
Robert Morris: After averaging just 64.4 points per game last season and losing Isaiah Still, its top scorer, the Colonials are still looking for consistent scoring.
STAT OF THE NIGHT:
Ohio State’s bench combined for 38 points, while Robert Morris’s second unit totaled just 18 points. Jallow and Wesson, playing in their first collegiate games, combined for 24 points and energized the crowd with high-flying dunks in transition and pick-and-roll finishes.
“When you have guys like that who can come off the bench and bring you energy like that and just ignite the crowd and everybody else on the team, you need that,” Bates-Diop said.
HE SAID IT:
Robert Morris struggled to hit shots and find openings against the Buckeyes. The Colonials turned the ball over 18 times and only two players scored more than five points.
“Unfortunately, we did our best to kick the Chris Holtmann era off in a positive direction,” Toole said.
Ohio State: Hosts Radford on Sunday
Robert Morris: Plays at Grand Canyon on Monday