Ohio State made just one mid-range jump shot, but dominated the paint and did enough damage behind the three-point line to pull off a surprisingly close 69-63 win over North Carolina Central in the Global Sports Invitational.
The Buckeyes scored 38 points in the paint while 18 came on the three-ball. Eleven points came via free throws. Junior guard Kam Williams had the lone mid-range jumper of the night, which came with 7:15 left in the game.
Junior forward Jae'Sean Tate had a team-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting while freshman center Micah Potter was next in line with 13 points, making 3 of 4 three-point attempts.
Despite those impressive individual performances, the team had a lackadaisical and inconsistent outing as a whole. Head coach Thad Matta said his team played uncharacteristically.
"Our minds," Matta said when asked what was missing from his team in the game vs. NCC. "For whatever reason we weren't thinking. Some things happened that I've never seen happen before in terms of 38 practices or whatever. We weren't mentally and physically very tough and we obviously got to get that corrected.
"I didn't like a whole lot of what I saw tonight."
North Carolina Central used a 14-2 run to take a 25-23 lead with 4:24 left until halftime. Sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle knocked down a threewith two seconds left in the half, securing a 31-29 Buckeye lead at intermission.
Tate scored five straight points during a 9-0 run early in the second half to give OSU a 40-32 advantage. NCC senior guard Ron Trapps trimmed it to a 40-39 OSU lead when he made a three at the 13:48 mark. That was the closest the Eagles would get the rest of the way, though. Ohio State outscored the visitors, 29-24, in the final 13-plus minutes to seal the shaky home-opening victory.
"Coach Matta is going to say it's his fault, but this one's on us as the players," Tate said after the game. "We just didn't come out how we practiced and we apologize to Buckeye Nation. We're going to try our best to come out on Thursday and play as hard as we can."
As a team, the Buckeyes shot 26 of 56 (46.4 percent) from the field and 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc. They committed 13 turnovers and assisted on 14 made shots.
In addition to his 21 points, Tate had 10 rebounds to record the game's only double-double.
Fifth-year senior guard Patrick Cole led North Carolina Central with 26 points in 37 minutes of action.
Ohio State (2-0) will now host Providence on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.