Keita Bates-Diop set a career high scoring mark by halftime and Ohio State overcame a slow start in both halves to close nonconference play with a 73-57 win Sunday against South Carolina State at Value City Arena.
The win gives the Buckeyes (8-5) their first four-game winning streak since Dec. 6-17, 2014. They close nonconference play with the most regular-season losses under coach Thad Matta and begin Big Ten play at home Wednesday against Minnesota.
With a 34-21 halftime lead, the Buckeyes struggled against South Carolina State’s 3-2 zone to open the second half as the Bulldogs closed within seven points, first at 36-29 and again at 38-31. As South Carolina State (5-9) put together its 7-2 run to open the half, Ohio State went 1 for 9 from the floor and committed two turnovers.
But freshman reserve A.J. Harris solved the defense with an alley-oop dunk to Daniel Giddens thrown from beyond the three-point line to push the lead back to nine points, and after Bates-Diop made two free throws one possession later, South Carolina State never got within 10 points again.