Ohio State’s 64-56 season-opening win at Cincinnati offered plenty of proof why the Buckeyes and Bearcats should do this on a basketball floor more often.
Here are seven things to know about the game:
1. The Buckeyes prevailed in front of a sellout crowd at newly renovated Fifth Third Arena.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said the atmosphere was even better than he anticipated as 12,012 fans packed the house.
“It was tremendous,” he said. “I’m sure it was not always aesthetically pleasing, two defensive teams that struggled a little bit offensively, so I get at times it may not have been the most pleasing game to watch, but it was a heck of a competitive college basketball game for the second night of the season.”
His team took control late in the first half and led by as many as 16 in the second before holding off a UC rally.
2. C.J. Jackson was clutch for Ohio State.
The senior guard had only three baskets, but they were all big.
He made a 3-pointer to push Ohio State’s lead to 10 points late in the first half, added another late in the shot clock in the second half as Ohio State was grinding out possessions and banked a layup high off the glass with 29 seconds left. That pushed Ohio State’s lead back to six points and keep the Bearcats at bay.
4. Jarron Cumberland did his part — once he got the chance.
The junior from Wilmington is expected to be Cincinnati’s top scorer this season, but he was relegated to the bench for 16 of 20 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
He erupted in the second, though, going for 22 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
His 3-pointer cut OSU’s lead to four points with 59 seconds to go, but that was as close as the Bearcats would get.
4. Mick Cronin blamed his team’s defense for the loss.
The UC coach knows one of his team’s biggest questions this season is who will score besides Cumberland, but he pointed to something else when explaining where it went wrong for the hosts.
After scoring 27 points on 33.3-percent shooting in the first half, Ohio State was 11 for 20 (55 percent) with 37 points in the second half.
“I’d be fired by now if we did that every game,” Cronin said. “I would not be the coach here. If we averaged 55 percent in the second half of home games and 37 points a game, I’d a been long gone. I promise you.”
The Bearcats outscored the Buckeyes by a point in the second half but lost by six after trailing by nine at halftime.
5. Kyle Young did a little bit of everything for Ohio State.
The sophomore forward needs to have a big year for the Buckeyes to return to the NCAA tournament. He started it off with 10 points and eight rebounds. He made both of his field goal attempts and went 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, drawing six fouls while committing none.
“Kyle’s motor tonight was pivotal for us,” Holtmann said. “We did challenge our guys that they were going to play against high-motor guys.”
He and Kaleb Wesson provided a formidable frontcourt presence. Wesson topped Ohio State with 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in 28 minutes.
6. A pair of guards had strong debuts for Ohio State.
Luther Muhammad, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Jersey City, New Jersey, scored 11 points and made a pair of 3s in his first college basketball game.
He also picked up the first technical foul of his career after saying something to a Bearcat defender following one of those treys.
“Luther is a tremendous competitor but he realized he made a mistake in that situation and that’s all I wanted to communicate to him,” Holtmann said. “That’s why we love him, why we recruited him: He brings a great competitive spirit.”
Keyshawn Woods, a senior transfer from Wake Forest, only scored four points, but he handed out five assists in his first game in scarlet and gray.
7. The Buckeyes improved to 7-4 against the Bearcats.
Ohio State and Cincinnati met on a basketball floor for only the 11th time in 114 years.
They had not played on either team’s campus since a 33-17 win by the Bearcats in Columbus in 1921. Ohio State’s last trip to UC was the previous year when the Buckeyes won 35-13.
Since then, the teams played four times — UC upset wins of the great Jerry Lucas Ohio State teams in the 1961 and ’62 NCAA championship games, an Ohio State win on a neutral floor in a 2006 regular season game and an Ohio State win in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The teams are scheduled to play again to open next season in Columbus.