COLUMBUS, Ohio – At one point during his postgame remarks, Albany coach Will Brown said No. 4 Ohio State had just "worn down" his team.
Now the Great Danes really have to avoid being run down.
After dropping an 82-60 decision to the fourth-ranked Buckeyes, they boarded a plane for Seattle and a game on Tuesday night against Washington.
This is a time for toughness for the Great Danes, on the court and off it.
Asked if his team gained something from playing one of the country's top teams, Brown preferred to look at it as a test.
"If we had a week off, I'd say, yeah, but shows you how smart I am," he said. "We're playing Friday, Sunday, Tuesday and we're going from Albany to Columbus to Seattle. Then we come back for a day and we practice and then we go down to Connecticut to play the rest of this (Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off) tournament."
"We're all over the place early. I'm challenging my team early and often," he said.
It was the Great Danes (1-1), who had opened their season on Friday night with a 69-66 home victory over Duquesne, who challenged the mighty Buckeyes through the first 15 minutes.
They led 23-22 after Sam Rowley's layup with 4:46 left in the half. But then Ohio State coach Thad Matta called a timeout and everything changed.
"I saw Thad jump off the bench and it looked like he had a 40-inch vertical," Brown said. "I saw how animated he was. That timeout, obviously, I think that lit a fire under them."
Deshaun Thomas scored 13 of his 19 points in what turned out to be a 17-2 run to end of the half as the Buckeyes took command and didn't look back.
Over the last 4:46 of the half during the Ohio State run, the Buckeyes hit 6 of 8 shots from the field to Albany's 0 for 4, didn't have a turnover and outrebounded the Great Danes 6-2.
Ohio State then opened the second half by scoring eight of the first 10 points to open up a 20-point lead. Albany never threatened the Buckeyes in the second half.
Mike Black scored 20 points and Jacob Iati added 13 for the Great Danes, who matched the Buckeyes on the boards but couldn't find an answer to their outside shooting. The Buckeyes hit 57 percent of their shots from the field, including 60 percent (12 of 20) on 3-point shots.
Aaron Craft scored a career-high 20, Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 18 and LaQuinton Ross had 10 for Ohio State, which didn't get to play its opener on Friday night aboard an aircraft carrier because of condensation on the floor.
Brown was pleased with how hard his team played.
"We just have to play so well to have a chance to beat them," he said. "And they can still play poorly and beat us. But we have to play so well to have a chance. We competed well. We didn't execute well and you have to against a team like Ohio State."
Black hit on 7 of 13 shots from the field, 2 of 6 behind the arc and was 4 of 6 at the line.
"Black's a big-time guard," Matta said.
His own coach agreed.
"He's the best point guard in our league, and arguably as good of a player as there is in our league," Brown said. "I am surprised he had 20 out of respect for Craft, who's the best defensive guard in America. But this is something we expect from Mike this year."
Brown said the cancellation of the Buckeyes' opener didn't work in his team's favor.
"I wish they would have played, and that that game would have gone, like, five overtimes," he said. "What happens is those guys are probably champing at the bit to play Marquette and the game's canceled. So now they're all revved up to beat up on little, old Albany. I knew we would get their best shot."
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