COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jared Sullinger scored 17 points and No. 2 Ohio State came out of the blocks fast to beat turnover-prone Western Carolina 85-60 on Sunday.
Dallas Lauderdale, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas all added 13 points and Jon Diebler 10 for the Buckeyes (8-0).
Ohio State broke free from an early tie with an 11-0 run and were never headed. They led by as many as 35 points before substituting freely.
Mike Williams led the Catamounts (4-8) with 22 points, while Trey Sumler had 12 and Brandon Boggs 11.
Due to fall quarter graduation held across the street at the larger, newer Value City Arena, the game was played at St. John Arena, the Buckeyes' home court from 1956-1997.
Ahead 42-25 at halftime, the Buckeyes hit their first four shots in the second half and ended any further drama.
The Buckeyes shot 52 percent from the field for the game and outscored the Catamounts 22-5 at the free throw line.
Western Carolina, averaging just under 14 turnovers a game, finished with 20.
Perhaps the most telling stat at halftime was that the Catamounts had 14 turnovers. They had 11 turnovers in their first 18 possessions to fall into a hole from which they never recovered.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, didn't turn the ball over even once in the opening 20 minutes.
Sullinger had 12 points, going to the line 10 times and hitting eight in the opening half. He ended up just 4 of 8 from the field but was 9 of 12 at the line.
It didn't take long for the Buckeyes to assert themselves. They broke free from a 2-2 tie to run off the next 11 points, with Buford hitting two baskets and Diebler and Thomas each hitting a 3.
The biggest cheer of the game came late in the half when Ohio State rapidly whipped five passes around and through Western Carolina's man-to-man defense before Lauderdale jammed off a feed from Buford.
Sullinger was coming off a record-setting 40-point outing in Thursday night's 75-64 win over IUPUI. He set an Ohio State mark for points by a freshman, in addition to records for free throws attempted (23) and made (16). It was the most points scored by a Buckeye since Dennis Hopson had 41 in 1986.
Sunday's game was the first meeting ever between the schools.
The Catamounts dropped to 0-36 against ranked opponents and 0-12 against the Big Ten.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta was an assistant at Western Carolina when the 16th-seeded Catamounts stretched top-seeded Purdue to the limit before bowing out of the NCAA tournament with a 73-71 loss. It remains one of the closest calls ever for a No. 1 seed, which has never lost a first-round game in the tournament.