As it turns out, there was little need to worry. The Buckeyes scored fast, they scored often and they ran the Seahawks off the court with an 81-41 victory.
"We had challenged the guys to star the game with great intensity and a high level," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "I thought our guys did a very good job coming out of the gates, especially on the defensive end. In the second half we let our guard down late in the game, but I was pretty pleased with the effort tonight."
Five Buckeyes scored in double figures, led by freshman Deshaun Thomas' 17 points on 6 of 13 shooting. William Buford had 12 points, Jared Sullinger and Jordan Sibert put up 11 and David Lighty added 10.
Wilmington was playing its third game in four days, and head coach Buzz Peterson said that had an effect. The Seahawks arrived Friday in Columbus and did not practice, only going through a shootaround Saturday morning.
"Obviously we had a hard time coming out of the gates and competing tonight," he said. "I thought we were getting knocked off our cuts. They hit some shots that I thought were over top of us but they were pretty good shots."
The Buckeyes (3-0) wasted little time seizing control of the affair. After the teams traded possessions to get things started, Lighty connected on a three-pointer from the right corner to get his team on the board.
They would never trail again. Baskets by Buford and Sullinger increased OSU's lead to a touchdown, and the Seahawks (2-2) did not get on the scoreboard until Chad Tomko's left-handed scoop shot at the 15:11 mark made it a five-point OSU lead. At the time of his basket, Wilmington had four turnovers had had seen one of its shot attempts nearly caught in the air by OSU senior center Dallas Lauderdale
The advantage would continue to grow from there. The home team put up seven more points before the Seahawks got another Tomko bucket to make it 14-4 with 13:03 remaining. The team's leading scorer at 14.0 points per game entering the OSU contest, Tomko had his team's first six points and finished the half with nine.
With his team trailing 20-6, Wilmington head coach Buzz Peterson deployed a 1-3-1 zone defense to try and keep the Buckeyes out of the paint. In response, they went 8 for 17 (47.1 percent) from deep in the first half.
The lead reached 20 points at the 5:45 mark when reserve freshman guard Jordan Sibert connected on a three-pointer to make it 31-11. He would hit treys on consecutive possessions less than three minutes later to push the lead to 40-16 with 3:09 left in the half.
But OSU was still not done. Sibert's third trey of the night was the start of an 11-0 run to close the half and set the score at 48-16. Head coach Thad Matta was afforded the chance to empty his bench early, putting in freshmen J.D. Weatherspoon and Lenzelle Smith at the 2:36 mark.
The 16 first-half points scored by Wilmington marked the fewest OSU had allowed in an opening stanza since Northwestern put up that number against the Buckeyes on March 8, 2009. The Buckeyes went on to win that contest by a 52-47 score.
OSU got to that point by enjoying sizable advantages on the glass (24-13) and turnover margin (plus-5). The Buckeyes assisted on 13 of their 17 first-half field goals, while the Seahawks did not record a first-half assist.
Thomas' 17 points came one game after he was limited to two in the Florida win and two games after he began his career with 24 points.
"I'm just learning the game, coming in (off the bench)," he said. "I came in, practiced, worked really hard, came out this game and played hard and did my thing."
Every active scholarship player scored for the Buckeyes.
"That is a plus because we are extremely hard to stop," Sibert said. "We're not selfish at all. We know that one night it may be (someone's) night. We never know and that's OK."
Sullinger was held to less than a double-double for the first time in his career, coming up with eight rebounds. Matta said he had been limited somewhat by an ankle injury suffered against the Gators.
Wilmington was led by reserve Matthew Wallace's 14 points.