COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- It may take Ohio State a while to get used
to being ranked.
Je'Kel Foster continued on his scoring tear with 19 points and
the Buckeyes (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) rallied down the stretch to beat Tennessee
State 74-65 on Friday night.
Terence Dials also scored 19 points -- 15 in the second half --
for the Buckeyes (8-0), who jumped into the Top 25 this week for
the first time in almost four years. Jamar Butler added 10 points
and seven assists.
"We always looked at opponents differently when they were
ranked," Ohio State swingman J.J. Sullinger said. "It puts a
target on your back. You know a team coming in will give you its
Foster was the Big Ten's player of the week last week, averaging
18 points in three victories while shooting 63 percent from the
field and 58 percent from 3-point range.
"I credit my teammates with getting me wide-open shots,"
Foster said. "Like last week, I'm just getting shots, taking my
time and knocking them down."
Price went down late in the game with a knee injury and coach Cy
Alexander said he feared it could be season-ending.
"That would make this particularly disheartening," Alexander
The Buckeyes, 8-0 for the first time in 15 years, trailed 55-52
with 10:43 left after Tennessee State's Kareem Grant scored inside
off an assist from Price. But the Tigers, playing their fifth
straight road game, didn't score again for the next 7½ minutes.
"Everything starts at the defensive end," Dials said. "We
gave up a lot of easy baskets and they also hit some tough shots.
We picked up the intensity."
Coach Thad Matta, who said he was more nervous going into this
game than any this season, agreed that the Buckeyes worked harder
on defense to shut down the Tigers.
"We were more active," he said. "We took away their
penetration better and did a better job of helping and
Foster hit a jumper and then tossed a lob pass inside to Dials
for a layup to give the Buckeyes the lead for good at 56-55 with
9:10 left. After the Buckeyes hit five free throws, Butler scored
off a backdoor pass from Foster and Foster then hit a baseline
drive to make it 65-55.
Tennessee State, which missed nine shots from the field and two
free throws during its drought, finally broke through on Ervin's
3-pointer at the 3:17 mark. The Tigers never got closer than five
"It was poise and not being tough enough yet as a young team to
handle a lead on the road," Alexander said of the dry spell. "We
had people trying to do too much, taking shots too quickly. ...
Basketball is a game of runs and we've got to work to shorten the
opponent's runs from 5 minutes to 2 minutes."
The Tigers were 13-of-28 on 3-pointers but were overwhelmed on
free throws. Preferring to stay on the perimeter on offense, they
were 4-of-6 from the line to Ohio State's 20-of-25.
Larry Turner had six points and seven rebounds in only his
second game for the Tigers since becoming eligible after
transferring from Oklahoma.
Ohio State led 42-31 after Dials scored inside on the second
trip down the floor in the second half. Tennessee State, which went
on a 11-0 run to lead by as many as 10 points in the first half,
responded with consecutive 3-pointers by Arnold and Price.
Down 47-39, the Tigers scored 12 of the next 17 points to pull
even at 51 on Arnold's 3-pointer. Price then hit two free throws
with 11:54 left after a technical foul on Sullinger for slapping
the backboard. They were the Tigers' first free throws of the game.
Ohio State finished 6-of-19 on 3-pointers, ending a
school-record streak of four consecutive games with at least 10 3s.
Matta said it may take his team some time to get comfortable
having teams challenge its record and ranking.
"At the start of the game, I think we thought it was going to
be easier than it was," he said. "For whatever reason, we were
not as sharp as we needed to be. We left a lot of shooters [open]
and that's something we'll have to correct."