COLUMBUS, Ohio - The problem with picking your poison is you are still stuck with drinking poison.
South Carolina (7-2) came into Value City Arena on Saturday afternoon and decided to try and take away the perimeter and freshman big man Jared Sullinger made it pay with a 30-point, 19-rebound performance as Ohio State (10-0) rolled to a 79-57 win.
Sullinger's 19 rebounds is an arena record and the second most ever by an Ohio State freshman (Herb Williams had 22 against Marshall in 1977). His 30 points is the third most scored by a Buckeye freshman and only ten points off the record he set nine days ago.
William Buford had 12 points while Jon Diebler had 11 of his own. Dallas Lauderdale and DeShaun Thomas each had seven rebounds on the afternoon. South Carolina leading scorer Bruce Ellington never got on track and shot 3-16 on the day and scored six total points after picking up three fouls in the first half.
"It was plain and simple a good old-fashioned whipping from a veteran team that just makes all of the little plays and does all of the right things," South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said.
The Gamecock plan did work however in limiting the three point effectiveness of the Buckeyes with the team only hitting four of 16 and Diebler only hitting two during the game. Ohio State took advantage of going down low where the team scored 38 of its 79 points in the paint.
"On the scouting report it is 6-9, 217 (Damontre Harris) and the another was 6-9, 225 (Sam Muldrow)," Sullinger said. "We just felt like we could get the ball inside with our size and just the ability to score inside with Dallas and myself."
The Buckeyes opened up a 21-point lead in the first half and held Carolina to 27-percent shooting during the first 20 minutes of the game. Getting off to a fast start is something that was stressed during the buildup to the game and the team listened loud and clear.
"Defense was the main key of the game with toughness as our focus," Lighty said. "Us coming out there and behind physical and not letting them get a head start We wanted to hit them first before they hit us."
South Carolina was a top ten team on the boards going into the game and the Buckeyes were able to win the battle of the glass by holding a plus-nine rebounding advantage.
"I think we had our minds right before the game started," Lighty said. "We came out and executed the game plan to a tee. That is a testament to coach and our hard work in practice and watching film to get prepared for the game."
Matta was happy with the first 20 minutes for the most part but like any head coach there were still some things that will be broken down on the tape and will be pointed out when the team reconvenes for practice in preparation for UNC-Asheville.
"I thought we were active defensively in the first half," Matta said. "(We) made a couple of mistakes and as good teams do they make you pay. Offensively once we got to where we were supposed to get versus the press we were able to convert and that was big for us."
If there was any question if things were going Ohio State's way Sullinger hit a 33-footer to be the halftime buzzer to send the Buckeyes to the locker room up 42-21.
"The play was to go to Dave," Sullinger joked. "It was Dave to pass it to me and I was supposed to give it right back. But the guy grabbed me so I couldn't catch the ball clean so all I heard was Dave say to shoot the ball so I just kind of threw it up and it went in."
South Carolina came out and made a hard charging run to start the second half and cut into the Buckeye lead but the game was already out of hand. The players realize that those kinds of breakdowns are what keep good teams from becoming great teams.
"That is just us coming out and not being mentally prepared for the second half like we were for the first half," Lighty said. "So once we get that down that will really be the next step of us becoming a better team."