Career day for Ross leads Buckeyes to dominant win

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

By Rusty Miller | Associated Press

COLUMBUS -- LaQuinton Ross scored a career-high 22 points to lead cold-shooting No. 4 Ohio State to a 70-43 victory over Northern Kentucky on Saturday.

Ohio State (5-1) rebounded from a 73-68 loss to No. 2 Duke on Wednesday night in which the Buckeyes led most of the way but faded at the finish. They had another bad shooting game against the Norse (0-5), making only 38 percent of their shots.

Deshaun Thomas added 14 points, and Sam Thompson scored 10 for the Buckeyes, who opened an eight-game homestand.

Jalen Billups had 11 points for Northern Kentucky, in its first year in Division I. The Norse haven't beaten a Division I team in a regular-season game since a 66-64 win over Tennessee State on Jan. 14, 1984.

The lead remained around 20 points throughout the second half.

Ohio State improved to 72-2 at home against non-conference opponents in coach Thad Matta's nine seasons. The Buckeyes have won 35 in a row in Columbus against non-Big Ten teams since losing to West Virginia on Dec. 27, 2008. The last 12 wins have been by at least 20 points.

Northern Kentucky (0-5) made its Division I debut with four games in five days at a tournament in San Diego last month. The Norse led in the second half of all four games, and lost twice by four points.

The Buckeyes were hardly at their best -- having trouble on the boards and not shooting well -- but led 36-22 at the half.

Ross, averaging 6.8 points a game, already had surpassed his career high of 11 with 13 first-half points.

Ohio State struggled to pull away from the Norse through the first 13 minutes. But the Buckeyes built on a 22-16 lead with a 12-0 run. Thomas started it with two free throws, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit a 3 before Thompson added two foul shots. Aaron Craft was credited with the basket on a goaltending call before Ross ended the surge with a 3 from the right wing.

Ohio State shot just 32.3 percent in the loss at Duke, and the Buckeyes didn't warm up on Saturday. They shot 30.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes, with Ross making 4-of-6 shots, and the rest of the team hitting 6-of-27 (.222).

Ross was 8-for-12 overall, and his teammates sank 15-of-49 shots (.306).

No. 4 OHIO ST. 70, N. KENT. 43

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (0-5)--Watson 1-10 0-0 2, Billups 5-8 1-2 11, Faulkner 1-3 1-2 4, Jackson 2-3 2-4 6, Jones 3-13 0-0 9, White 2-5 0-0 5, Staley 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-7 0-0 0, Flournoy 1-6 0-0 3, Snodgrass 0-3 0-0 0, Monaco 0-0 0-0 0, Ju. Rossi 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 16-59 4-8 43.

OHIO ST. (5-1)--Thomas 5-14 4-5 14, Thompson 3-5 3-4 10, Ravenel 1-5 2-2 4, Craft 2-9 0-0 4, Smith, Jr. 2-9 0-0 6, Scott 1-5 3-4 5, Ross 8-12 3-3 22, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 2-2 2, Della Valle 1-2 0-0 3, McDonald 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-61 17-20 70.

Halftime--Ohio St. 36-22. 3-Point Goals--Northern Kentucky 7-29 (Jones 3-8, Ju. Rossi 1-1, Faulkner 1-3, White 1-3, Flournoy 1-5, Snodgrass 0-1, Watson 0-3, Johnson 0-5), Ohio St. 7-23 (Ross 3-6, Smith, Jr. 2-6, Thompson 1-1, Della Valle 1-2, Scott 0-1, Thomas 0-3, Craft 0-4). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Northern Kentucky 41 (Billups 9), Ohio St. 43 (Ross, Thomas 8). Assists--Northern Kentucky 10 (Johnson 4), Ohio St. 14 (Scott 6). Total Fouls--Northern Kentucky 18, Ohio St. 9. A--16,548.

Billups had nine points and seven rebounds in the first half for the Norse, who held a 26-22 edge on the boards. The Buckeyes finished with a 43-41 edge in rebounds.

After playing just two of their first five games at home, the Buckeyes opened a monthlong homestand that includes a showdown against No. 10 Kansas and the Big Ten opener on Jan. 2 against Nebraska.

The game marked the first time Northern Kentucky had played a Big Ten team.

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