Duane Washington’s 18 points kept Ohio State ahead through the late-first and early-second half, but it was a team effort to put North Carolina away Wednesday.
Four different Buckeyes scored during the 9-0 second-half run that placed No. 6 Ohio State (8-0) ahead 48-36 against No. 7 North Carolina (6-2), en route to an eventual 74-49 victory in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Washington, a sophomore guard, led the way in scoring. Junior forward Kaleb Wesson pulled in a near-double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Ohio State limited the production of North Carolina star freshman forward Cole Anthony to 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting.
Freshman forward E.J. Liddell and redshirt junior CJ Walker also finished in double figures.
Following the eventual game-sealing run, Liddell got in on the action with a string of four points, then North Carolina coach Roy Williams decided to place a squad of second-teamers in. They cut the lead back to single digits at 57-48 before the starters re-entered.
The starters surrendered a 14-0 run over the next 5:19.
It wasn’t just Anthony the defense was smothering. North Carolina finished a meager 27 percent from the field, and Ohio State out-rebounded the Tar Heels 48-32.
North Carolina had out-boarded its opponents by 20 rebounds per game entering the contest.
Twice, Ohio State has faced top 10 opponents this season.
Twice, Washington has buried three 3s in the opening six minutes to ignite the Buckeye offense.
After the Tar Heels opened with a 5-0 stretch and Ohio State failed to score the opening 2:48, Washington cashed in a triple to open the Buckeye scoring.
With Washington’s help from the outside, Ohio State outscored North Carolina 22-9 over the next 6:05 to take a 22-14 advantage.
But Anthony and turnovers kept the Tar Heels alive.
The Oregon native stepped outside to hit a pair of 3s en route to eight first half points, and the Buckeyes turned the ball over 10 times in the opening 20 minutes which North Carolina scored six points from, cutting the lead to 29-27 at halftime.
Neither team scored in the final 2:43.
North Carolina freshman forward Armando Bacot, who entered averaging nearly 12 points and 10 boards, went down with an apparent ankle injury with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half. He did not return.
Ohio State opens conference play against Penn State Saturday at noon in the Schottenstein Center.