Cook Leads OSU Past Eastern Kentucky

Freshman guard Daequan Cook hit 10 of 13 shots from the floor for a team-high 22 points as No. 5 Ohio State turned up the heat and turned out visiting Eastern Kentucky 74-45 Friday night at Value City Arena.

The Ohio State men's basketball team came out in brand new gray jerseys on Friday against Eastern Kentucky, but it was the Buckeyes' full-court pressure that made the Colonels turn blue.

The fifth-ranked Buckeyes used their pressure to force 26 EKU turnovers on their way to a 74-45 win before a sellout crowd of 18,882 Friday night at Value City Arena.

"We knew coming in that we wanted to dictate the tempo," said OSU coach Thad Matta, whose team improved to 4-0 on the young season. "We thought we would be able to change ends."

The Buckeyes, who had 15 steals, got 32 of their points off EKU miscues. OSU hit 70.8 percent of its shots (17 of 24) in the first half and ended up at 58.3 percent (28 of 48) for the game.

"We did a good job of taking care of the basketball," Matta said. "We also got the shots we wanted and that's important for this team."

Freshman guard Daequan Cook came off the bench to lead the Buckeyes with 22 points and four rebounds.

"I thought Daequan had a great pace to his game tonight," Matta said. "He took good shots and our guys did a good job of getting him the ball. He moved well without the basketball. We thought there would be some areas where we could attack them and he was obviously paying attention because he found them."

Cook connected on 10 of his 13 shots from the floor.

"I was just in the flow," Cook said. "I didn't pay attention to how many shots I made. I played my game and my teammates got me some wide open shots. I was able to take advantage of them and knock them down."

Freshman guard Mike Conley Jr. added 13 points, three assists and three steals, while senior guard Ron Lewis had 11 points.

"Michael showed why he is such a heady player," Matta said. "I thought he played a solid game both offensively and defensively."

Darnell Dialls led EKU (2-1) with 11 points.

"Obviously, we played a really talented team," said EKU coach Jeff Neubauer. "Their pressure threw us out of sync. If we're going to be successful against the teams on our schedule, we will have to turn it over a few less than 26."

The Buckeyes trailed 11-5 just four minutes into the game. But a 20-2 run, keyed by seven points from Cook, helped OSU open up a 35-17 lead with 3:37 left in the first half. EKU's Mike Rose hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead down to 35-23 with 2:58 left in the half.

But Ohio State scored the last eight points of the half to go up 43-23 at the intermission. Cook had a layup, Matt Terwilliger had a steal and a breakaway jam, Conley had a layup off a steal by David Lighty and, finally, after a steal by Othello Hunter, Conley drove by everybody down the lane for a layup with two seconds left in the half.

"On the play at the end of the half, they switched off and put a big guy on him," Matta said of Conley's driving layup to cap the half. He was able to use his speed and was able to finish. Those are the things that make our team go."

Cook tallied 16 of his points in the first half after hitting all seven of his shots from the floor.

EKU got as close as 15 early in the second half, but Ohio State pushed down on the gas pedal again and put the Colonels away. OSU went on a 21-8 spurt, keyed by eight points from Lewis, to move on top 64-36 with 8:26 left.

Cook closed the game in fine fashion. He hit a jumper in the lane and then, after a steal, threw down a one-handed jam to give OSU its biggest lead at 74-45 with 1:12 left.

Guard Jamar Butler added eight points, four assists and four steals for the Buckeyes. Othello Hunter chipped in six points. David Lighty and Ivan Harris each had five points, with Harris grabbing seven rebounds. Terwilliger finished with four points.

Also Notable

* The Buckeyes warmed up in their usual white home jerseys. But Conley said when the team returned to the locker room, they found the gray ones in their locker.

"It was a surprise," Conley said. "They looked really good. They didn't tell us or anything."

Matta said he had no plan as to when the team would wear gray.

"I think I like them in scarlet and gray," he said. "I was very apprehensive because we were 3-0 in the white uniforms and I don't like change."

* Under Matta, OSU is now 35-3 at home, including 22-0 in nonconference games.

* Ohio State hosts San Francisco at 8 p.m. Monday (ONN). The Dons are 2-0 going into a game tonight against Fresno State.

"They have a very good basketball team," Matta said. "They have a couple of transfers in there. They are an athletic team and they like to get up and force your hand a little bit. I told the players this will be another great test for us with this team coming back on Monday night."

* OSU has changed the game times for its games Dec. 2 against Valparaiso and Dec. 9 against Cleveland State. Those games will each now start at 4 p.m.

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