Buckeyes Have Little Trouble With UTSA

No. 16 seed UTSA entertained early thoughts of a historic upset against Ohio State before the top-seeded Buckeyes restored order. OSU pulled away to a 16-point halftime lead and never let the Roadrunners back within single digits on the way to a 75-46 win top open the NCAA Tournament. William Buford led the four Buckeyes in double figures with 18.

March Madness is about magic, but more than that it's about reality.

More often than not, Cinderella runs end. When it comes down to brass tacks, the better team usually wins.

UTSA found that out the hard way Friday afternoon in Quicken Loans Arena. After getting off to a 9-5 lead that had the few Roadrunners fans in attendance on their feet, UTSA fell victim to a 32-12 run the rest of the half as No. 1-seeded Ohio State ran away to a 75-46 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

A packed-to-the-rafters crowd of 20,164 watched as William Buford led Ohio State with 18 points while Jon Diebler added 14, Deshaun Thomas had 13 and Jared Sullinger had 11 along with nine rebounds. OSU shot 56.9 percent as a team (29 of 51) and made half its 24 three-pointers.

Only a late 12-0 run by the Roadrunners prevented them from being doubled up on the scoreboard.

Things were looking up for the Roadrunners when they scored on their first four possessions, but Ohio State's defense quickly adapted to their slowdown style, leaving the drives of senior point guard and four-time All-Southland Conference point guard Devin Gibson their lone offensive option.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's offense took little time to figure out UTSA's 2-3 zone, as the Buckeyes made 15 of 24 first-half shots (62.5 percent) including 6 of 10 three-pointers. The Buckeyes assisted on 14 of the field-goal makes.

Buford led the way with 15 points in the stanza while Diebler and Sullinger had nine apiece and Sullinger had seven rebounds.

The three led Ohio State's charge after UTSA, winners of six in a row including the first NCAA Tournament win in school history, took its early lead. Buford started the charge, running down the right baseline and jamming down an emphatic dunk to make it 9-7 at the first media timeout.

Sullinger made a layup to tie the score before Buford, wide-open in the left corner on an inbounds play, drained a three to give Ohio State its first lead at 12-9 with 12:05 to play.

From there, it was pretty much all Ohio State. Buford hit a three with 8:26 left to make it 23-13, Sullinger made a layup with 4:36 left to put OSU ahead by double digits for good and the Buckeyes had an 11-0 run late in the half to ice the contest.

Any thoughts UTSA would come back were put to bed for good early in the second half. The Roadrunners cut a 37-21 halftime deficit to 11 early in the frame, but OSU increased the lead to 20 at 46-26 when UTSA coach Brooks Thompson took a technical foul, Diebler made both shots and David Lighty got on the scoreboard for the first time with a trey on the resulting possession.

Dallas Lauderdale got in on the action midway through the half, jamming down an emphatic one-handed slam off an inbounds pass from Aaron Craft that gave OSU a 25-point lead at 57-32. From there, head coach Thad Matta went to his bench, getting Thomas, Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith Jr. liberal playing time and senior walk-on Eddie Days a few minutes of work.

Gibson, UTSA's leading scorer this year with 16.8 per game coming in, led the way with 24. Melvin Johnson III, who had scored in double digits in 14 straight games and led UTSA with 29 in its opening-round win, finished with only five.

Game Notes
Diebler passed the 1,500-point mark for his career, finishing with 1,507. He passed Troy Taylor (1,497) to move into 16th in school history. … He made a three-pointer for the 51st consecutive game. … Craft, who picked up two fouls early in the first half, was held scoreless for the first time since Dec. 12 vs. Western Carolina. … Ohio State won its eighth in a row and is now 4-0 all-time vs. members of the Southland Conference.

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