COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lamar coach Pat Knight is hoping there will be a payoff down the road for taking a beating at No. 2 Ohio State.
But that didn't mean he didn't have hopes of an upset.
"Oh, yeah. We come in here wanting to win," Knight said after Tuesday night's 70-50 loss to the Buckeyes. "Sylvester Stallone wouldn't have made millions of dollars off six 'Rocky' films if the underdog lost all the time."
But even he recognizes that a small school from Beaumont, Texas, isn't much of a match against the tall and talented Buckeyes, led by All-America Jared Sullinger, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return from his latest nagging injury.
"The bottom line is, even if you don't (win), we're not going to play anybody as good as they are," Knight said. "We're not going to play in front of this many people. So from that standpoint, this does nothing but help our team get ready for (Southland) Conference."
The Cardinals (8-4) hung around for a while. They fell behind 34-21 at halftime. Then Ohio State started going to Sullinger, who scored the first eight points for the Buckeyes. From then on, it was a question of gaining some experience.
Deshaun Thomas, chosen as the Big Ten's player of the week on Monday, added 16 points for the Buckeyes (11-1). His streak of making 17 consecutive two-point field goal attempts ended on his first shot of the game.
Devon Lamb and Stan Brown each had 10 points for Lamar, which had a four-game winning streak come to an end. The Cardinals' record against Big Ten teams dropped to 1-5.
The Cardinals were 0 for 12 on 3-point shots, marking the first time an Ohio State opponent didn't hit a 3 in 621 games, dating to 1992.
It hadn't been nearly that long since Lamar hadn't hit a shot behind the arc — just January 2010.
"We can't shoot 3s," Knight said. "The problem is, that was their goal last year, to shoot a lot of them. I actually at halftime told them they couldn't shoot a 3 until after four passes. We just can't shoot them."
The Buckeyes trailed just once, 4-3, and slowly took over the game.
A 3-pointer by Lenzelle Smith Jr. made it 6-4 and touched off an 11-2 run that put the Buckeyes in command to stay.
The Buckeyes had played three of their last four games without Sullinger healthy. The All-America missed two games with back spasms — including Ohio State's only loss, a 78-67 setback at No. 13 Kansas on Dec. 10 — and all but 6 minutes of Saturday's 74-66 win at South Carolina with an ankle injury.
But he warmed up without any obvious discomfort, was in the starting lineup and picked up his sixth double-double of the season.
The win was Ohio State's 32nd straight at home, extending the second-longest streak in school history.
Knight's father, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, was honored at halftime with an alumni award. A 1962 graduate of Ohio State, he was a member of the 1960 team that won the school's only national championship.
Bob Knight received a University Ambassador Medal, presented by the president and CEO of Ohio State's alumni association, two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.
Knight teased Griffin that "you could play for me" but added he'd have to play defense because he wouldn't let him shoot.
There was a luncheon honoring Knight earlier in the day.
"Coach Knight told me it was one of the greatest days of his life," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
Knight also said he was grateful for his days at Ohio State, particularly what he learned under his late coach, Fred Taylor.
"I don't know what I would have become," Knight said. "I don't think it would have been a minister."
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