Buckeyes Cruise Past Chicago State, 81-52

Ohio State opened the 2005-06 men's basketball season with an 81-52 drubbing of visiting Chicago State on Sunday. It was a very good debut for OSU guards Ron Lewis and Sylvester Mayes. We have the game story, including comments from OSU head coach Thad Matta, as well as Lewis and Mayes.

Ohio State opened up the 2005-06 men's basketball season with a convincing 81-52 victory over visiting Chicago State on Sunday.

The Buckeyes (1-0) were led by guards Ron Lewis and Je'Kel Foster who finished with 16 points apiece.

The Cougars (0-1) were paced by junior forward Camron Clay with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Also for OSU, junior forward Ivan Harris had 12 points, senior center Terence Dials had 11 points and seven rebounds, junior guard Sylvester Mayes – playing his first game at OSU – finished with 11 points and a game-high nine assists, and senior J.J. Sullinger had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

The game was never in doubt as OSU built a big first half lead and never looked back.

"This was a weird game," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "We really never got in our offense. We got out to an early lead with our transition. They were trying to run and jump and we were able to get some easy looks. We just took what they gave us today."

It was a fine debut for Lewis – a Columbus native who transferred from Bowling Green last year.

"I thought Ron played well," Matta said. "He was patient with what he was doing offensively. And that's what we need out of him."

In the first half, Ohio State jumped out to an 8-4 lead by the first media timeout (15:42). Foster drained a 3-pointer from the corner on OSU's first possession. That was followed by two free throws from Lewis, a fastbreak bucket from Mayes, and another free throw from Lewis (who lived up to his reputation as an aggressive slasher with six foul shots in the first four minutes of the game).

The Buckeyes then went on an 18-0 run to take a commanding 26-4 lead. The highlights of the spurt were a 3-pointer from Mayes and a resounding dunk from Lewis off a nice pass from Foster. Dials capped the run with a fastbreak lay-up at the 10:29 mark.

By the third media timeout of the half (7:53) the Buckeyes held a 28-9 advantage. They upped that to 37-15 by the 3:08 mark.

The last three minutes of the half turned sloppy with both teams committing multiple turnovers. At halftime, Ohio State led 40-19 with Lewis leading the way with 10 points and Foster right behind with nine markers.

In the early stages of the second half, both teams caught fire from the floor. At the 14:59 mark, OSU's 21-point margin was still in tact with the score 51-30. Foster scored five quick points to begin the half, Dials also drained a pair of baskets and Lewis continued to be a one-man highlight show with an alley-oop jam from Mayes.

But the Cougars would not go away. They continued to scratch and claw for every point and at the 11:35 mark, Ohio State led 57-35.

But the Buckeyes were too much on this afternoon. Chicago State was able to get as close as 62-41 at the 9:00 mark, but an 8-0 OSU run – with yet another dunk from Lewis mixed in – gave the Buckeyes a 70-41 lead with 7:19 left in the game.

From there, they cruised to what could be the first of many victories this season. After a three year absence from the NCAA Tournament, expectations are high for the veteran Buckeyes and Sunday's win was a good first step.

Rounding out the scoring for OSU, Matt Sylvester had five points and walk-on freshman guard Sam Payne had one point.

Freshman forward Brayden Bell saw his first taste of college action and went scoreless, but did pull down four rebounds.

Ohio State won the rebounding battle 37-33. But the Buckeyes didn't have much to boast about playing against a much smaller Chicago State team.

Matta admits that rebounding is still a big concern of his.

"It is," he said. "I've done damn near everything to get us to rebound the basketball better and I need to continue doing that. To Chicago State's credit, they sent all five guys to the glass. Sometimes I thought they were sending seven."

As for the alley-opp passes from Mayes to Lewis, OSU fans should get used to seeing more of that this season. The two seem to have already developed an on-court chemistry with each other.

"It's just him looking at me and me looking at him," Mayes said. "There's no signal. When the opportunity is there, we take it."

Mayes' nine assists proved he can run the point well.

"I believe in my teammates," Mayes said. "If they have open shots, I am going to get them the ball and they are going to hit their shots. Hopefully they'll keep getting open and my nine assists will go up."

Foster was smooth from 3-point range, knocking down four of his five attempts.

"We did a good job of sharing the ball," Foster said. "I just did a good job of taking my time and knocking down my shots."

Notes

Ohio State is now 88-19 all time in home openers and 84-23 in season openers. … The Buckeyes are now 3-0 all time against Chicago State. The teams also played in 1990 (112-54) and 1991 (116-44). … Ohio State went with a starting lineup of Dials, Sylvester, Lewis, Foster and Mayes. OSU sophomores Matt Terwilliger and Jamar Butler were suspended for the opener for participating in a charity 3-on-3 tournament during the offseason. … Ohio State is now 6-1 all time against Mid-Continent Conference foes, with the lone loss coming to Valparaiso in the Great Alaskan Shootout in 2000. … The Buckeyes are now 92-22 all time at Value City Arena, which opened in 1998. … Matta is now 6-0 as a head coach in season openers, including one season at Butler and three seasons at Xavier. ... Ohio State gets back in action against Butler (Matta's alma mater) on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Value City Arena (ESPN Plus, Ch. 10 in Columbus).


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