COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State overcame an early challenge and finished its nonconference schedule on a positive note.
C.J. Jackson scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Kaleb Wesson added 17 points as the No. 13 Buckeyes beat High Point 82-64 on Saturday.
Luther Muhammed had a career-high 15 points to help Ohio State (12-1) recover from a six-point deficit in the first half to get its sixth consecutive win.
“Our concentration level has to improve or we’re going to struggle in Big Ten play,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
Ricky Madison scored 12 points and Curtis Holland III had 11 for the Panthers (6-7), who have lost two straight.
“When we come in playing against a good team, a ranked team like Ohio State, you’ve got to play very effective or efficient and we were for the most part in the first half,” High Point coach Tubby Smith said. “We did some good things but a flurry of turnovers and bad shots in the first half really created some momentum for Ohio State and they took advantage of it.”
Ohio State shot 70.8 percent (17 for 24) in the second half when it outscored the Panthers 45-36. The Buckeyes opened the second half with eight straight points for 45-28 lead to put the game away.
“We did a very poor job defensively in the second half,” Smith said.
High Point went on 16-2 stretch in the first half for a 22-16 advantage with under seven minutes left. Ohio State then went on a 19-2 run to go up 11.
“We need to stay locked in the whole game,” Muhammad said. “Sometimes we lose the intensity.”
High Point: Smith inherited a team at his alma mater that was 14-16 overall and 9-9 in the Big South last season. Smith, who coached Kentucky to the 1998 national championship, has the Panthers playing hard and used use the experience of facing the Buckeyes to prepare for the upcoming conference schedule.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes needed some time to figure out the High Point zone but recovered nicely with a team effort needed if they are going to return to the NCAA Tournament a second straight season.
High Point redshirt freshman forward Caden Sanchez is from Columbus St. Francis DeSales High School and was third-team All-Ohio and the district player of the year as a senior. Coincidentally, the school colors for each are purple and white. He tied his career high with seven points against the Buckeyes.
Of the Buckeyes’ 12 wins, two are already in the Big Ten with victories over Minnesota and Illinois earlier this month, so stepping out of conference the final two times vs. UCLA on Dec. 22 and High Point got the team’s attention.
“Our goal was to win the final two non-league games to be 10-1. We did that,” Andre Wesson said. “Now the fun part is in the Big Ten to compete against good teams.”
OSU’s lone blemish is a 72-62 home loss to Syracuse on Nov. 28.
High Point: Hosts Washington College on Wednesday in its final nonconference game before opening its Big South schedule.
Ohio State: Resumes Big Ten play when it hosts No. 8 Michigan State on Jan. 5.