OSU Wins BCA Classic With 81-59 Win Over Kent

Ohio State captured the BCA Classic championship on Sunday with an 81-59 win over Kent State at OSU's Value City Arena. Ron Lewis scored 18 points and was named tournament MVP. Daequan Cook made the all-tournament team. After the game, we caught up with Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, Lewis, and Kent State head coach Jim Christian.

Ron Lewis scored 18 points and Ohio State used a strong second-half surge to defeat Kent State 81-59 in the finals of the BCA Classic on Sunday at Value City Arena.

Kent State (2-1) did not have a player score in double figures. Omni Smith led the Golden Flashes with nine points.

Also for the Buckeyes (3-0), Jamar Butler scored 14 points and had a game-high seven assists, Othello Hunter had 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds, and David Lighty finished with 10 points.

Lewis was named tournament MVP and OSU's Daequan Cook (eight points against Kent) made the all-tournament team.

"Ron did a good job all weekend of getting into the flow of things," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "He had some very good moments offensively and rebounding the basketball. And we need Ron to continue to be a leader for this team.

"I also thought Jamar Butler did a good job of leading and finding ways to help the team."

Lewis, who scored an OSU career-high 27 points on Saturday against Loyola-Chicago, was not all that impressed with winning the MVP trophy.

"Really I just played basketball and I think the MVP award is overrated because it's a team game," he said. "You always have to give someone the trophy, but it's a team award."

The Buckeyes were an impressive 13-of-26 from three-point range and were 28-of-51 overall from the floor (54.9 percent) against Kent. However, the game was in doubt until midway through the second half. And it shouldn't have come as any surprise as Kent State is a solid program that has won 20 or more games for eight consecutive seasons.

In the first half, Kent opened strong and led 6-3 at the 16:40 mark.

But OSU responded with a 6-0 run – including a Hunter slam off a pass from Mike Conley Jr. – to take a 9-6 lead at the 14:51 mark.

The Golden Flashes then went on a 7-0 run to grab a 13-9 lead, but three-pointers from Lighty and Butler gave the Buckeyes a 15-14 advantage with 9:55 left in the first half.

Kent State forward Jullian Sullinger – the brother of former OSU standout J.J. Sullinger – then dropped in a bucket for a 16-15 KSU lead at the 9:25 mark.

A three-pointer from Lighty gave OSU the lead back (20-19) at the 7:03 mark. Lighty then fed Hunter for a deuce, giving the Buckeyes a 22-19 advantage at the 6:32.

But Kent would not go away. A driving basket from Smith gave the Golden Flashes a 25-22 advantage, which would prove to be their final lead of the game.

Consecutive threes from Lewis and Butler gave OSU a 28-25 lead at the 3:08 mark as the home crowd really got into the game for the first time.

A Lighty basket pushed the Buckeyes' lead to 33-27 with 31 seconds left in the half.

However, a three-pointer from Kent's Armon Gates at the buzzer made the count 33-30 at halftime.

In the second half, Kent State immediately tied the score with a three-pointer. Ohio State responded with a 9-0 run to take a 42-33 lead – the spurt was capped by a pair of free throws from Conley at the 17:38 mark.

But Kent came back with a 6-0 run to make the score 45-39 at the 16:10 mark.

The Buckeyes then began to take control of the game. Cook scored his first points of the night off a rebound and put-back for a 50-41 OSU lead at the 14:21 mark.

Ivan Harris then buried a three-pointer to give OSU its largest lead of the game to that point (56-46) at the 11:05 mark.

Harris followed that up with a nice move and step-back three-pointer at the 9:55 mark for a 59-48 OSU advantage.

A Butler three-point play and a Hunter offensive rebound and put-back gave the Buckeyes a commanding 64-48 lead at the 8:30 mark.

A three-pointer from Cook pushed OSU's lead to 75-56 at the 4:05 mark.

A deep three-pointer from Butler and a free throw from Matt Terwilliger accounted for the final points of the evening as OSU stayed perfect on the young season.

"I give Kent State credit," Matta said. "They came at us in the first half and got us on our heels the first 16 minutes. We had to fight through some adversity, which is good for this team. Our upperclassmen stepped up and David Lighty made some nice plays down the stretch in the first half. Our defense was much better in the second half."

It was a small step for Matta's Buckeyes, but it was nice to begin the season with a tournament championship.

"To come out of his tournament 3-0, I'm really excited for our guys because honestly I didn't know what to expect playing three games in three days," Matta said. "We'll go over all three game tapes tomorrow so we can figure out how to get better because this team can definitely play better basketball.

"Playing three games in three days, our guys now have a better understanding of college basketball in terms of the quick turnaround and getting ready to scout other teams. Our scouting is pretty detailed."

Rounding out the scoring for OSU, Harris had nine points, Conley had eight and Terwilliger had one. Matta is impressed with the overall balance of his team as the Buckeyes anxiously await the debut of 7-1 freshman center Greg Oden who is out with a wrist injury until sometime in December. Ohio State has just eight scholarship players without Oden.

"We have eight starters right now," Matta said.

Kent State coach Jim Christian was pleased with his team's first half performance, but thought OSU was clearly the better team in the second stanza.

"In the second half we went away from our defensive game-plan and we were like deer caught in headlights," he said. "We didn't do a good job of guarding their three-point shots and we fell apart and they took advantage of it."

Lewis talked about OSU's mental toughness and how the Buckeyes didn't lose their confidence when the game was close throughout the first half.

"We learned to not quit and not get down on ourselves," Lewis said. "We just kept fighting and did what we needed to do."

* The Buckeyes will next be in action on Friday at home against Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories