COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State coach Thad Matta took a glance at the gaudy numbers on the stat sheet and shook his head.
“I never would have predicted this,” he said.
Ron Lewis scored 26 points and J.J. Sullinger added 18—combining to hit all but one of their 19 shots from the field—to lead the 18th-ranked Buckeyes to a 104-69 victory over Penn State on Thursday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
The Buckeyes (11-0), off to their best start in 15 years, shot 63 percent from the field, including 68 percent in the opening half while building a 58-29 lead.
Lewis came off the bench to go 10-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Sullinger didn’t miss any of his eight shots, making both of his 3-point tries.
“That was a team that played back off of us,” Lewis said. “We had a lot of good looks. We took every shot with confidence.”
The Buckeyes led by as much as 84-39 with 12 minutes left before substituting freely.
“They beat us from start to finish,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. “It was a great performance shooting the basketball. I’ve never seen a team shoot the ball they way they shot it. It just wasn’t one guy, it was everybody.”
All 10 of Ohio State’s scholarship players scored, even though only two made it into double figures.
“That shows how balanced we are,” Sullinger said. “Anyone on the team is capable of having a big night.”
Jamelle Cornley, a prep star in Columbus who was a high school teammate of Lewis’, led Penn State (8-4) with 20 points. Geary Claxton added 17 points for the Nittany Lions, who had won four in a row since losing 91-54 to Pittsburgh on Dec. 10.
“It seemed like they couldn’t miss,” Cornley said of the Buckeyes.
It was Penn State’s 33rd consecutive Big Ten road loss, dating to a March 1, 2001, win at Iowa. Ohio State’s shooting percentage was the highest by a conference opponent since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1992-93. They have lost their last 12 games to a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 5 North Carolina 82-74 in the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament.
The game was all but over after Ohio State hit 23 of 34 shots from the field in the opening half to go up by 29 points.
The Nittany Lions led 13-12 before it every shot by Buckeyes started going in.
“After the first TV timeout, we said to ourselves, ‘This can’t happen anymore’ and we matched their intensity and their hustle,” Sullinger said.
After Je’Kel Foster, who had nine points and five assists, missed a 3-pointer at the 15:41 mark, the Buckeyes hit their next nine shots over a span of more than 7 1/2 minutes. They made 14 of their first 16 shots before Foster missed another 3 with 8:02 left, although Matt Sylvester scored with the rebound for a 34-19 lead.
At one point, the Buckeyes scored on 13 consecutive possessions. Even though the Nittany Lions were shooting close to 50 percent, holding their own on the boards and losing few turnovers, they were falling farther behind.
It was the most points scored in a conference game by Ohio State since a 105-87 win at Michigan on Feb. 12, 1981.
“This is what we live for, this is what we play for,” Sullinger said. “We were unbeaten coming into Big Ten play. We wanted to send a message.”
Ohio State finished with nine turnovers and hit half of its 26 3-point attempts.
Jamar Butler and Sylvester Mayes each had nine assists for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes get their biggest challenge of the season on Saturday at No. 16 Indiana, their first date with a ranked opponent.
“The horn goes off and your mind goes to Indiana,” Matta said.