COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Late in the first half of the BCA Classic
title game, Ohio State coach Thad Matta called a timeout and laced
into his players.
"I don't know if I could repeat it," Matta said when asked
what he said.
The Buckeyes (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) responded with a spurt, better
defense and improved rebounding to pull away for an 81-59 victory
over Kent State on Sunday night.
"He (Matta) was really just telling us to buckle up and play
basketball, to stop thinking about anything else and just play
basketball," Lewis said.
Jamar Butler, the only starter back from last season's Big Ten
champions, added 14 points, junior-college transfer Othello Hunter
had 13 and freshman David Lighty finished with 10. Another player
had nine points and two others had eight.
Lewis was the tournament MVP for the Buckeyes (3-0). He was
joined on the all-tournament team by freshman Daequan Cook.
"I think the MVP award is really overrated," Lewis said.
"It's a team game and everybody contributed. They've got to give
somebody the trophy, but it goes to the team."
Nobody hit double figures for Kent State (2-1), the defending
Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament champions.
Omni Smith had nine points and three others had eight.
"In the second half we just went away from our game plan
defensively. Our guys got caught with a deer-in-the-headlights type
of look," coach Jim Christian said. "We let them get some easy
3-point shots and against a team like Ohio State, you can't let
them go on runs like that."
The Buckeyes hit half of their 26 3-point attempts and ended up
shooting 55 percent from the field. Kent State had 20 turnovers and
hit just 4-of-15 shots behind the arc.
Sub Ivan Harris hit three big 3-pointers that helped turned the
"When I come off the bench, I don't think twice," he said.
Butler said the team had nicknamed the lanky swingman "The
Microwave" because he heats things up.
Ohio State has only eight scholarship players until Oden -- a
prized 7-foot center -- is able to come back from surgery on his
right wrist. As a result, there is little rest but a lot of playing
time for a team with five first-year major-college players. On top
of that, the Buckeyes play at a frenetic pace in their motion
offense and in their stifling man-to-man defense.
The Buckeyes trailed 25-22 late in the half before Matta called
his timeout and his team went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for
good. Lewis started it with a 3 and Butler hit another before the
Buckeyes made three free throws on the way to a 33-30 halftime
The Golden Flashes kept hanging around, slashing through the
lane for baskets and trapping all over the court on defense. They
were down just 56-48 midway through the second half when the
Buckeyes pulled away again.
This time, Ivan Harris hit a 3, Butler muscled in a 10-foot
jumper while he was fouled and then hit the free throw and Hunter
powered his way inside for a follow to push the lead to 64-48.
The lead never dropped below double figures again.
"We came apart out there and they did a good job of taking
advantage of it," Christian said.
Lewis said he learned something about his young teammates.
"In this game we learned to not quit or to get down on
ourselves," he said. "We're going to make mistakes, but we just
have to keep fighting to win."