The Ohio State Buckeyes, though still led by point guard Aaron Craft, are a different team this season.
Without much of an inside presence or go-to scorer (yet), Ohio State (2-0) will need to change its offensive philosophy and attempt to discover its identity during its early-season games.
And on Tuesday night, the Ohio Bobcats (1-1) gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle, though a strong second half from Craft helped Ohio State hold on for the 79-69 win.
In a good sign for the Buckeyes, they got balanced scoring, with four players in double digits. Craft scored 18 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Most importantly, Ohio State shot an absurd 51 free throws, making 38. Ohio shot just 21 total free throws, making 16. The pace of the game could best be described as a slog through constant whistles and attempts to get used to the game’s new rules.
The Bobcats were led by Nick Kellogg and Stevie Taylor, who each scored 21 points. Despite the loss, Ohio established itself as a formidable mid-major team this season.
Ohio was also able to find plenty of room in the paint, which will be an area of serious concern for the Buckeyes as they begin to play stronger opponents, especially in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten Conference.
Despite being separated by only 75 miles, this was the first matchup between the two teams since 1994, a Preseason NIT game the Bobcats won.