Buckeyes batter Bears

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's season-opener went about the way you might expect it go.

After a somewhat sluggish start, the No. 11-ranked Buckeyes used a 20-4 run to close out the first half before coasting to the 89-50 win against seemingly overmatched Morgan State Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.

"Ouch. That's all I got to say," said Bears coach Todd Bozeman.

For much of the contest, it might've like a fitting description as Ohio State shot 48 percent from the floor while limiting Morgan State to a 31-percent outing. The Buckeyes flexed their muscles under the basket too, out-rebounding Bozeman's squad, 55-34.

But it was in the more finesse details of the game -- particularly the perimeter --that Ohio State appeared most dominant.

After losing the Big Ten's leading scorer in Deshaun Thomas to the NBA draft in April, the Buckeyes attacked the Bears with a flurry of scorers, perhaps validating the postured notion that they might not need one dominant player to hinge their offense on.

While such a role has been seemingly appointed to junior forward LaQuinton Ross, five Ohio State players finished the contest in double figures.

"I thought Ross would take on the role of Thomas and they would go to him the same kind of way," Bozeman said.

Such schematics didn't come to fruition Saturday.

Leading the charge for coach Thad Matta's crew was Lenzelle Smith Jr., who finished the day with 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting. Shannon Scott totaled 16 points and Ross and Sam Thompson chipped in 14 apiece. Ross also had 11 rebounds to notch his first career double-double.

The balance might serve an Ohio State team searching for its offensive identity well.

"I think it makes it really hard for other teams to guard us," Scott said.

Perhaps most notably, though, was the Buckeyes' affinity for shooting behind the arc.

After attempting just nine tries in last weekend's exhibition game against Walsh, Ohio State connected on 11-of-25 three pointers against the Bears.

What changed?

"When you come out here, every game is going to be different. You just gotta take what the defense gives you," Smith Jr. said. "I think our spacing was really good today and our team was able to find open guys and we were able to knock down those shots."

One such player was Scott, who hit three-straight three pointers to ignite the contest. Behind his steady play, the Buckeyes built a comfortable yet far from dominant cushion against its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foe.

Matta said improving Scott's shot was a point of emphasis in the offseason.

"I mean, one day this summer, he got 400 shots up and he said, 'I've never done that before,'" Matta recalled. "And I said, 'Well there's maybe a reason you haven't shot the ball particularly well.'"

What might've been equally key for Ohio State, though, was a consistent and rather suffocating defensive effort, holding the Bears to 31 percent shooting and ultimately ending any hopes of making an upset bid against a squad that finished in the Elite Eight last season.

It helped the Buckeyes outscore Morgan State by 16 heading into intermission.

"That's just our brand of basketball, that's five guys being connected out there," Smith Jr. said. "Our defense is what turns our offense into being so good. We come down and get a stop and it ignites us."

Against the Bears, which wouldn't pose a threat in the second half, it was enough to ultimately subdue them.

Ohio State is set to play Ohio Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.