Very little, which is about how much it mattered when the two teams took to the court Nov. 28 at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes (5-1) ran roughshod against the visiting Red Flash (1-5), holding a 30-point halftime lead and cruising to a 110-47 victory.
"We got shellacked," St. Francis head coach Don Friday said. "We really had no impact on that game tonight. I feel like I was just in a 15-round street fight with an 18-wheeler."
The game marked the sixth-largest margin of victory in school history for the Buckeyes and the most lopsided since a 112-54 victory against Chicago State on Dec. 8, 1990.
The only thing in question remained how large the final margin of victory would be as the home team jumped out to an early lead. A three-pointer from St. Francis forward Cedric Latimer stemmed a 5-0 Buckeye run to open the game, but OSU would score the next 11 points to make it 16-3 with 14:31 remaining in the first half.
St. Francis had no answer for OSU's athleticism. The Red Flash held serve for the next two minutes, outscoring the Buckeyes by a 4-2 margin to make it 18-7 with 12:28 left, but from there OSU blew it wide open. A 12-0 run during which each basket was scored by a different player made it 30-7 with 8:28 left. The capper was a dunk by OSU junior center Dallas Lauderdale, which caused St. Francis to call its second timeout in four possessions.
It mattered little which adjustments St. Francis could come up with.
This one belonged to the Buckeyes from the get-go, who had runs of 11-0, 12-0 and 11-0 in the first half alone.
Four nights earlier, OSU had come out sluggish before pulling out an 84-64 victory against Lipscomb. This time, the Buckeyes were determined not to repeat the same mistake.
"I think coach really emphasized coming out with a lot of energy," junior guard Jon Diebler said. "The two practices leading into this game, our energy was at a high level. Going into the Lipscomb game, it wasn't where it needed to be. (Today), that first four-minute war, we sent a message to them and it started to wear on them because we kept coming."
After the game, OSU head coach Thad Matta said he was most pleased with his team's defense.
"We were able to score off our defense tonight, which is something we hopefully can continue to do going forward," he said.
Things got so out of hand in the early going that head coach Thad Matta turned to seldom-used reserves Zisis Sarikopoulos and Nikola Kecman, who each saw first-half action for the first time since the season-opening victory Nov. 9 against Alcorn State. Each of them scored during the half as well, and just one Buckeye on scholarship – senior Kyle Madsen – did not record at least one point in the first half.
He scored at the 14:41 mark of the second half to get on the stat sheet.
It was Jon Diebler who got things rolling in the early going, hitting on five of his first six three-point attempts. When he exited the first half at the 4:34 mark, he had more points (15) than St. Francis (14) and OSU's lead was 29 points.
Diebler finished with 17 points, all but two coming in the first half. He was part of a balanced scoring attack that saw senior reserve Jeremie Simmons score a career-high 18 pointes. Junior Evan Turner finished with 16 – including the 1,000th point of his career – sophomore guard William Buford closed with 15, Lauderdale had 11 and reserve P.J. Hill had 10. In addition, reserve Nikola Kecman had a career-high nine points before fouling out with less than two minutes to play. "That's pretty cool," Turner said of reaching the scoring plateau. "It's real cool. It probably won't hit me until I leave here, but it's a great accomplishment. I'm really fortunate to be put in the same class with legendary players and great people I met over the years like Ron Stokes and Scoonie Penn. I'm really fortunate."
The loudest second-half applause came for walk-on Mark Titus, whose blog "Club Trillion" has been viewed more than 1.8 million times since its inception more than one year ago. The senior entered the game with about five minutes left and missed two three-point attempts, each one drawing a loud crowd reaction.
St. Francis hails from the Northeast Conference and boasts an enrollment of 2,000. The Buckeyes, members of the Big Ten, welcomed in a freshman class of 9,510 for the 2009-10 school year. It was the first meeting between the two schools.
Check back later for quotes and more final stats.