The Ohio State men’s basketball team used a 20-5 run in the last 13 minutes of play to secure its fifth victory of the season, defeating Wyoming 65-50.
OSU senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. poured in a game-high 20 points on 5-8 shooting from 3-point land. Junior center Amir Williams did his part, recording a double-double with 12 points and 16 boards.
“I thought that Lenzelle was the difference in the game,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said.
Despite only allowing an average of 23.5 points in the first half of its first four games, OSU gave up 34 in the first 20 minutes against the Cowboys. Wyoming shot 56 percent from the field and had 24 points in the paint before halftime.
“Quite honestly, it was like a layup clinic,” OSU coach Thad Matta said about the opening half.
The Buckeyes struggled containing Akron, Ohio, native Larry Nance Jr throughout. The 6-foot-8-inch junior forward had 11 points on 5-9 shooting in the first half, including multiple dunks. Nance finished with a double-double in his homecoming, scoring 17 points and collecting 12 rebounds.
The Buckeyes leaned on 3-point shooting in the first half, tossing in six of 13 attempts. Smith Jr. accounted for half of those makes to give him a game-high of 12 points at the half. OSU made just 28.6 percent of its 3-pointers coming into Monday, tied for worst in the Big Ten with Indiana.
Matta said Williams’ improved play and resulting defensive attention helped his team make open shots from the perimeter.
“It’s hard to leave (him defensively) now, and you saw the effects when they did,” Matta said about the added attention to the Buckeye center.
OSU struggled to continue its hot shooting from deep to start the second half, as they missed three attempts from range in their first five possessions.
The poor shooting allowed the Cowboys to get a three point advantage, 42-39, with 15:27 remaining, prompting Matta to call a timeout.
Matta’s men responded with a 6-1 run, but a rocking Schottenstein Center was abruptly silenced by a technical foul call on junior guard Shannon Scott with 13:06 remaining after he appeared to knock over a Wyoming player with a forearm to the chest.
Matta did not comment on the call after the game, as he said he was not watching Scott when it occurred.
Junior guard Riley Grabau made both ensuing free throws for the Cowboys, tying the game at 45.
OSU scored 12 of the game’s next 14 points to open up a 10 point lead with just under six minutes remaining. The Buckeyes would not look back, pushing the lead all the way to 15 at game’s end, OSU’s largest lead of the night. Wyoming failed to make a shot from the field in the game’s final 10 minutes.
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross also struggled offensively, posting just three points and one rebound in 19 minutes of action in another disappointing performance.
“He needs to make some shots,” Matta said. “LaQuinton needs to trust himself.”
Matta said his starting five will not change before the next game.
OSU is set to return to action Friday against North Florida at 5 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center.