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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman was asked what his team got out of an 89-50 loss to No. 11 Ohio State on Saturday.
"You want me to tell you how much the guarantee was?" he cracked.
For the record, the Bears got $90,000 to take a beating in front of 16,777 at Value City Arena.
But Bozeman said they also got some other things out of the game by stepping up in class, at least in terms of talent.
"For my team, as I told them, it's one game," he said. "I know you look at the scores and some teams lost by one and some by 30. You can't get caught up in that. That's why I kept coaching them all the way through. We're trying to focus on what we do. Obviously, we don't match up with them. But we're trying to focus on what we do."
Morgan State, coming off a 17-15 overall record and a 10-6 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, won eight of its last nine games last season under Bozeman, in his eighth year since coaching at California.
But the Bears had difficulty matching up with Ohio State. Justin Black had 13 points, Ian Chiles 12 and Anthony Hubbard 11 for Morgan State, which was meeting the Buckeyes for the first time.
"We knew obviously coming into the game that with them being ranked they would be a tough opponent," Bozeman said. "Then (Shannon) Scott got it going right out of the box making 3s and that kind of loosens things up."
Scott scored a career-high 16 points, including three big 3-pointers at the start, and LaQuinton Ross, also starting for the first time as a junior, had 14 points and a personal-best 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes.
Senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the way with 18 points and spurred a first-half spurt for the Buckeyes, who improved to 93-18 in home openers and 89-22 in season debuts.
Much of the drama vanished early after Ohio State scored the first eight points and built a 26-point halftime lead.
Sam Thompson added 14 points and freshman Marc Loving had 10 for Ohio State. Scott had seven assists to go with his 16 points, while Ross registered his first career double-double.
"(That balance) makes it really hard for our team to be guarded," said Scott, the son of legendary North Carolina and NBA star Charlie Scott. "They really can't focus in on one player. Everybody on the court is capable of scoring now."
The Buckeyes are coming off a 29-8 season in which they tied for second in the Big Ten with a 13-5 record.
Ohio State returns four starters: Amir Williams, Aaron Craft, Smith and Thompson. Ross, who blossomed in the NCAA tournament last year as a reserve, is expected to step into the spot vacated by the early departure of Deshaun Thomas, last year's Big Ten scoring leader.
Just as he had in a 93-63 exhibition victory over Walsh last Sunday, Matta brought Thompson off the bench and inserted Scott into the starting lineup. The combination of the quick Scott and physical Craft gives the Buckeyes one of the best pairings of defensive guards in the country.
Plus, Thompson provided a lift off the bench.
Scott hit three 3-pointers — a career high for a game — in the first 2:05 to power an 11-2 lead.
Down just 29-19 after a 3 by Blake Bozeman, the coach's son, at the 6:41 mark, things spiraled out of control for the Bears as the Buckeyes went on a 16-0 run.
Smith hit two 3s and added a layup for eight points, with backup center Trey McDonald adding four points in the surge, which finally ended with 46 seconds left when Dontre Pretlow hit a 3 for Morgan State.
"That is just our brand of basketball, five guys being connected out there," Smith said. "Our defense is what turns our offense to being so good. We come down, we get a stop, it ignites us."
It was a starting point for the both teams.
"I was actually happy because we kept playing," Bozeman said. "I wanted them to keep playing regardless of the score and try to play with discipline in regard to our rotations. That's what we did."
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