The Buckeyes are ready for Big Ten play.
But before OSU could get to West Lafayette for its conference opener with Purdue on New Years Eve, it first had some business to take care of. But if the Buckeyes were looking past Louisiana-Monroe on Friday, it manifested itself in a positive way, as Ohio State cruised to a 71-31 win over the Warhawks.
"Today was about establishing ourselves," said senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. "We know what's coming down the pipeline with the Big Ten. We got real bullets now."
But before the Buckeyes could get to Big Ten play, they first had to face a ULM squad that seemed overmatched from the opening tip. Ohio State jumped out to a 25-4 lead in the game's opening nine minutes, never looking back from a rout that saw Smith (17) and LaQuinton Ross (15) outscore the Warhawks on their own.
After jumping out to a 25-4 lead in the game's opening nine minutes, the Buckeyes never looked back, nearly doubling their 41-20 halftime lead by game's end. Ohio State was also aided by a defensive effort that saw ULM convert just 18.5 percent of its shots, with no Warhawk player making more than two field goals on the night.
"I was very pleased with the energy that we played with defensively," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "I thought they did a good job of getting themselves ready to play."
The Buckeyes will now enter the Big Ten portion of its schedule with a 13-0 record to their credit, as Ohio State is ranked second in one poll and third in the other. Despite not having played a team ranked higher than 39th in terms of RPI, Smith feels as though he's learned a lot about him and his teammates over the course of the past two months.
"I wouldn't say we got done everything that we needed to get done, but we definitely got better every time we stepped on the floor," Smith said. "Just looking back to the start of the season and the second game until now, we've come a long way. And I know we still have a long way to go."
Their toughest tests of the season may still lay ahead of them, but the Buckeyes prepare adequately prepared for the start of Big Ten play. The only undefeated and highest ranked team in the conference, Ohio State will undoubtedly have a target on its back throughout the Big Ten season, but the Buckeyes are eager to prove that they're deserving of their current status.
"These 13 games showed us where we measured out at-- how good our team really said," said Ross. "I think it's just given us a measurement of how good our team is for the Big Ten."