Columbus, Ohio — Not even Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann saw this coming.
His 18th-ranked Buckeyes looked NCAA Tournament-ready in their third game, racing out to a big lead, playing solid defense and smothering No. 10 Villanova, 76-51, on Wednesday night for a significant early-season victory.
“Probably two or three times have I ever been part of a game as a head coach where almost everything kind of goes your way,” Holtmann said. “And that’s reality. Very rarely do you have games like that.”
Ohio State (3-0) came out firing, with Duane Washington Jr. opening the game with a pair of 3s and CJ Walker adding another for a quick 9-0 lead. The Buckeyes bolted to a 19-3 lead, led by as many as 27 and held a 40-22 advantage at the intermission of this Gavitt Tipoff Game, a November series that matches up the Big Ten and the Big East.
“We knew we had to have a big start because we’ve been starting games off slow,” said freshman guard D.J. Carton, who finished with 11 points and was one of five Ohio State players to reach double figures.
Villanova didn’t show signs of life until a 9-0 run late in the first half. But Kyle Young started the second half with a dunk and the Buckeyes never backed off the gas, leading by as many as 30.
“Our players’ preparation and their play was the reason for tonight’s win,” Holtmann said. “I thought across the board they were really ready for this game.”
Washington led the Buckeyes with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Luther Muhammad had 11 points and Kaleb Wesson added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Villanova never could find its shot.
The Wildcats hit 30.6 percent from the floor, including 10-of-30 from 3-point range. They were held to a dozen points in the first 16 minutes, and the Buckeyes consistently controlled play in the paint.
Jermaine Samuels had 14 points and Cole Swider had 11 for the Wildcats (1-1).
“We have a lot to learn,” said coach Jay Wright, whose teams have won two national championships in the past five seasons.
“These guys have to learn to play together,” he said. “They have to learn to trust each other.”
More Big Ten
(At) Marquette 65, Purdue 55: Koby McEwen scored a game-high 23 points and the Marquette Golden Eagles used a big second half to rally to a win over Purdue as part of the annual Gavitt Games between the Big Ten and Big East.
Markus Howard added 18 points for Marquette (2-0), which outscored Purdue 40-17 in the second half to capture its first-ever victory against the Boilermakers. The Golden Eagles were 0-9 all-time against Purdue entering the night.
Matt Hearms had 14 points to lead the Boilermakers (1-2) who dropped their second straight game after a season-opening victory against Green Bay.
The Boilermakers scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 18. But after trailing 38-25 at halftime, Marquette opened the second half on a 29-14 run and took a 54-52 lead, its first of the night, on a layup by Sacar Anim with 4:43 to go.
Howard was presented a special game ball by coach Steve Wojciechowski before tipoff for becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer. The senior guard eclipsed the 2,000-point mark on Wednesday. Howard now has 2,011 points for his career.
(At) Wisconsin 83, McNeese 63: Brad Davison scored a game-high 24 points, Aleem Ford added a career-high 16 points, and Wisconsin beat McNeese.
Brevin Pritzl scored 13 points in his first start in two seasons for the Badgers (2-1), who won their second straight game.
Forward Sha’Markus Kennedy scored a team-high 20 points and A.J. Lawson added 10 for the Cowboys (1-2).
Kobe King, a sophomore wing who scored a career-high 18 points in the Badgers’ victory on Nov. 8 over Eastern Illinois, didn’t play Wednesday after suffering a left-leg injury in practice on Monday.
Kennedy scored seven points to pace McNeese to a 9-2 lead to start the game.
(At) Northwestern 72, Providence 63: Ryan Young had 16 points and Anthony Gaines added 14 points as Northwestern raced to a big lead and hung on for a victory over Providence as part of the Gavitt Games.
Miller Kopp had 12 points and Pat Spencer 11 as Northwestern bounced back from a stunning 71-61 loss to Merrimack in its opener last week.
Alpha Diallo had 15 points and 14 rebounds and David Duke added 14 points as Providence dropped to 2-1.
Northwestern (1-1) led by 20 points in the second half before Providence closed within three points.
The Wildcats closed the first half with a 12-2 run to take a 40-29 halftime lead. They were 12 for 20 from the field overall, including 5-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers. The Wildcats continued their surge after the intermission, opening the second half with a 10-2 run for a 50-31 advantage.
(At) Rutgers 62, Drexel 57: Ron Harper Jr. had 13 points and eight rebounds to lead Rutgers past Drexel.
Drexel (2-2) has its first lead of the game at 29-28 with just over a minute left to play in the first half after a put-back layup on a fast break by Matey Juric, but Rutgers (3-0) took it back on the next possession on a Geo Baker layup. James Butler’s second-chance layup put Drexel up 31-30 going into the half.
However, Rutgers would promptly take the lead in the second half on a Geo Baker three-pointer on the fast break after Montez Mathis stripped the ball from Mate Okros.
Mathis would have back-to-back dunks off Drexel turnovers just under five minutes into the second half to make it 38-33, causing the Dragons to call a timeout with 15:35 to go. Drexel would re-tie the game at 47 on a Camren Winter three-pointer with 7:42 remaining, before taking a 50-49 advantage on a Jarvis Doles three-pointer from the left wing with 5:30 remaining.
It’s the final lead Drexel would have, not scoring for nearly four minutes.