Ohio State needs to find a way to hone its game without injured star Evan Turner before getting into the heart of its schedule.
The 18th-ranked Buckeyes look for a more complete effort when they host Delaware State on Saturday.
Ohio State (8-2) defeated Presbyterian 78-48 on Wednesday, bouncing back from last Saturday’s 74-66 loss at then-No. 22 Butler.
The win was the Buckeyes’ first in two games without leading scorer Turner (18.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game), who could miss up to eight weeks after breaking two bones in his lower back against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 5.
While the score would indicate their latest victory was an easy effort, coach Thad Matta and the Buckeyes thought differently after getting outscored 27-25 by Presbyterian in the second half while shooting 41 percent. They’d connected on 63 percent of their shots before halftime.
“We’re a team that our margin for error is not as high as one might think,” said Matta, whose team scored eight points over the final 12:24 on Wednesday. “Therefore, we’ve got to take a look at what we didn’t do and try to get better at it.
“They have to understand that we need to be doing what we do for 40 minutes. We just need to try and get better each week.”
The Buckeyes have two chances at home to improve themselves, starting Saturday against Delaware State (4-4) and versus Cleveland State on Tuesday, before opening Big Ten play at Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve.
Normally, games like the next two would be mere tuneups for Ohio State, but it can’t take anything for granted after its last 20 minutes of basketball, especially without Turner.
“Whatever team is out there playing, that shouldn’t dictate how we play - it should be the opposite,” said junior forward David Lighty, who had a team-high 20 points Wednesday and is averaging 17.3 in his last three contests.
“It’s just us being mentally tough enough to go out there and execute like we have in practice and don’t let them control what we do,” Lighty added.
The Buckeyes hope that’s the case as they try to improve to 3-0 versus Delaware State. Lighty and William Buford each had 13 points in Ohio State’s 70-42 victory over the Hornets on Nov. 20, 2008.
A school from the lightly-regarded Mid-Eastern Conference, Delaware State has not shied away from playing some tough competition. The Hornets lost 71-53 at Arkansas on Dec. 7, and 76-34 at Arizona State last Saturday.
Senior forward Frisco Sandidge had 12 points and senior guard Marcus Neal added 11, but the Hornets shot a season-low 25.0 percent against the Sun Devils for their third straight loss.
Neal, averaging a team-leading 14.0 points per game, had 14 against Ohio State last season.
Delaware State has lost all 16 of its games against ranked opponents since the start of the 1996-97 season.