Boy, were they ever.
Ohio State hit 15 of its first 18 shots from the floor and went on to defeat visiting Penn State 104-69 before 14,709 at Value City Arena in the Big Ten opener for both teams Thursday night.
The win was OSU's most lopsided Big Ten win since 1991 and the most points scored in a conference game since 1981. Accordingly, the 18th-ranked Buckeyes (11-0, 1-0) were able to rest a number of their key players in advance of Saturday's showdown at No. 16 Indiana.
"I would have never predicted this," said OSU coach Thad Matta. "I thought we played extremely well there out of the gate. It was good that we were able to rest some of our guys. Nobody played more than 26 minutes. But our focus was strictly on Penn State and finishing off this game the best we could."
Ron Lewis led Ohio State (11-0, 1-0) with 26 points. He was 10 of 11 from the floor, including 5 of 6 from behind the three-point arc.
"I just always try and listen to my brother," Lewis said. "My shots haven't been falling. I just had to hold my form and keep shooting the same way every time. They backed off of us and we got a lot of good looks. I was taking every shot with confidence."
J.J. Sullinger added 18 points, three rebounds and three steals. He hit all eight of his shots from the field, including a pair of three-point shots.
"This is what we live for," Sullinger said. "This is what we play for. We were undefeated coming into Big Ten play. We wanted to send a message. Our main focus is on maintaining and doing what we do and getting ready for Saturday."
The Buckeyes shot 63.2 percent (43 of 68) from the floor, including 50 percent (13 of 26) on three-point attempts.
"Any time you shoot the ball from three like we did, you open up some avenues," Matta said. "If you start moving the ball, that helps matters. We got the shots we wanted."
"That just shows how balanced we are," Sullinger said. "Any one of us is capable of having a big game at any time, especially when you have guys distributing the ball the way Jamar does."
OSU had 28 assists for the game against just nine turnovers. The Buckeyes also accounted for nine of PSU's 20 turnovers with steals. OSU had 38 of its points off turnovers.
Penn State freshman forward Jamelle Cornley, a Columbus Brookhaven graduate, led the Nittany Lions (8-4, 0-1) with 20 points and six rebounds.
"I enjoyed it just being on the same floor with J.J. Sullinger, who I watched growing up, as well as (former Brookhaven teammate) Ron Lewis," said Cornley, who was 10 of 16 from the floor for the Lions. "To be on the same floor with them was an honor in itself."
Geary Claxton had 17 points and six rebounds for PSU, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
"I've never seen a team shoot as well as they did," said PSU coach Ed DeChellis. "Obviously, our defense, we didn't do a very good job. We had no answer. They just beat us from start to finish. Give credit to them. I don't think we were really after them, into them, the way we talked about."
Penn State actually held an early 13-12 lead after Brandon Hassell scored on a layup with 13:34 left in the first half.
"We know they do a very good job of creating havoc with little hustle plays," Sullinger said. "They are a scrappy basketball team. After the first TV timeout, we regrouped. We said, ‘This can't happen any more.' "
OSU came back with an 18-2 run to seize control of the game.
Matt Sylvester hit a three-pointer to start the run. Lewis then completed an old fashioned three-point play. Lewis then hit a three from the corner, followed by an 18-foot jumper from Terwilliger. Claxton stemmed the tide momentarily with two free throws for Penn State with 11:23 left. But the Buckeyes added more points on a jumper by Sullinger, a layup by Mayes off a steal by Sullinger, a free throw by Terence Dials and a layup by Butler off a feed from Foster to take a 30-15 lead with 9:25 left.
The lead went to 20 on Harris' three-pointer that made it 39-19 with 6:41 left in the half. It went to 24 at Butler's trey that made it 45-21 with 3:48 left. Lewis had a pair of treys in the final 1:22 of the half as the Buckeyes moved on top 58-29 at the intermission. For the half, OSU hit 67.6 percent (23 of 34) of its shots.
Ohio State went on a 14-2 run early in the second half as it enjoyed its largest lead of the night.
Lewis had eight points during that run, scoring a layup off a PSU turnover and hitting treys off back-to-back assists by Mayes. On the second one, Mayes got to the baseline and flipped the ball behind his back to Lewis at the top of the key.
"I was just trying to create something for our team and go out and play," Mayes said. "Luckily, Ron Lewis was there to get it. I had seen another one of my teammates, Matt Terwilliger. Hey, we'll take it."
Mayes then capped that run and gave OSU its biggest lead with a layup off a runout that put the Buckeyes ahead 84-39 with 11:59 left in the game.
"We approached the second half like it was 0-0," Sullinger said. "We wanted to play better in the second half than we did in the first."
Sylvester added seven points for Ohio State. Brayden Bell chipped in six and Terence Dials had five points and seven rebounds in just 22 minutes of work.
* Penn State dropped its 33rd straight Big Ten road game.
* Lewis' 26-point game was his best as a Buckeye, but shy of his career high of 34 against Urbana while playing at Bowling Green in 2003.
* Sullinger now has 1,000 points in his college career, finishing the night with 1,001 points between his one year at Arkansas and three seasons at OSU.
* OSU's 58-point first half outdistanced its previous best first half this year of 46 points against Virginia Tech. It also outpaced the 55 points OSU scored in the second half against Norfolk State as the best half of the year.
* The 58-point half was OSU's most in a half since it scored 62 in the second half of a 93-87 win at Penn State in 2001.
* The 104-point output was OSU's most since it defeated Seton Hall 105-96 on Dec. 16, 1995, at St. John Arena.
That total was OSU's most in a Big Ten game since it won 105-87 at Michigan on Feb. 12, 1981.
* The 35-point margin of victory was OSU's most in a Big Ten game since a 102-62 win at Northwestern on Jan. 10, 1991. That was also OSU's last 100-point output in a conference game.
* OSU remained one of six unbeaten teams in Division I. Also unbeaten are Illinois (15-0), Florida (13-0), Duke (13-0), Pittsburgh (12-0) and Villanova (10-0).
* The Buckeyes are 11-0 for the first time since the 1990-91 season, when they opened 17-0. OSU has opened 11-0 on just four occasions all-time.
* OSU is now 100-22 all-time in VCA, including 9-0 this year.
* OSU is now 31-12 under Matta, including a record of 24-2 at home.
* OSU is now 19-13 all-time against Penn State, including 12-4 in Columbus and 6-1 in VCA.
* Ohio State visits Indiana (10-2, 1-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised regionally by CBS (along with an LSU-UConn match-up). OSU then visits Purdue next Wednesday (8 p.m., ESPN-Plus) before returning home to host No. 7 Michigan State on Jan. 15. That game will start at 4:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by CBS.
"When the horn goes off, your mind goes to Indiana," Matta said. "The conference season is literally a war. We play these guys again in three weeks. You have got to protect your home court. In the Big Ten, this is one for us. Now we go on the road for two in a row."
Sullinger is 1-1 in two previous trips to IU's Assembly Hall.
"I think my teammates know what to expect there," he said. "There will be a lot on the line Saturday. If I was to tell them anything, I'd say there is a lot of tradition in that gym. Their fans are always up screaming and yelling. When you get to this point, the game Saturday is between two of the premier teams in the country.
"If I have to tell them anything to get up for it, they don't have a heartbeat."
* For Mayes, an Indiana native, it will be his first trip to IU.
"I've never been to Indiana," Mayes said. "I'm looking forward to it."