Ohio St. 74, Towson 53
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Terence Dials scored a career-high 23 points and J.J. Sullinger led two scoring spurts to lead Ohio State to a 74-53 victory over Towson on Monday night in the first round of the Guardians Classic.
The Buckeyes (1-0) advance to meet Robert Morris in the second round on Tuesday night at Value City Arena. The Colonials beat Morgan State 68-49 in the first game of the doubleheader.
Dials hit 8 of 11 shots from the field and 7 of 11 free throws to surpass his previous scoring high of 22, set against Illinois in the Buckeyes’ last game a year ago at home.
Sullinger and Tony Stockman each added 12 points for the Buckeyes, coming off a 14-16 season.
The game marked the coaching debuts at their respective schools for both Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Towson’s Pat Kennedy.
Matta took over the Buckeyes after seven-year coach Jim O’Brien was fired in July for allegedly giving $6,000 to a recruit. He has since sued the school. Matta took Xavier to the NCAA regional finals last year.
Kennedy, a head coach for 24 years at Iona, Florida State and DePaul, came to Towson after two losing seasons at Montana.
Mike Green scored 10 points for Towson (0-1), which hit all 15 of its free throws but just 16 of 51 shots from the field for 31 percent.
Down 7-6 early, the Buckeyes took the lead for good on Sullinger’s 3-pointer from the left wing. He then scored on a driving layup and, after a free throw by Dials and a 12-foot jumper by Matt Sylvester, Sullinger scored inside in traffic and was fouled to push the lead to 17-9.
The Tigers hit just 26 percent from the field in the opening half and trailed 37-23.
Sullinger blocked a shot on Towson’s first possession of the second half and then later dunked and assisted on Stockman’s 3-pointer as the Buckeyes opened up a 46-25 lead by scoring nine of the first 11 points.
The Buckeyes outscored the Tigers 34-14 in the paint.