Nov. 17, 2012
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) - Deshaun Thomas scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and No. 4 Ohio State beat Rhode Island 69-58 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Connecticut on Saturday.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 15 points, Aaron Craft had 13 points and four assists for the Buckeyes (2-0) who struggled with the Rams (0-3) well into the second half.
Xavier Munford had 16 points to lead Rhode Island, which had four players in double figures and trailed by just four at halftime.
The Rams were down just six when Craft hit a 3-point shot that bounced around the rim and in with 6:45 left and then stole the ball on the other end of the court.
That led to a technical foul on Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley.
Thomas hit both free throws and the five-point swing gave Ohio State a 55-44 edge, its first double-digit lead of the game, and the Buckeyes held on from there.
Rhode Island hit eight of its 17 shots from 3-point range to stay in the game, but was outrebounded by 10.
Rhode Island took an early lead and was up 19-13 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Nikola Malesevic and Andre Malone more than 10 minutes into the game.
Malesevic had seven points when he picked up his second and third fouls in a 12-second span in the first half and his team up 22-17.
Ohio State closed the half on a 7-0 run and led 30-26 at the break. Craft had 10 of his 13 points in the first half.
Malesevic picked up his fourth foul with 16:40 left and Ohio State quickly went up 38-31.
But Rhode Island fought back, and came within two at 38-36 on ally-oop dunk from Mike Powell to Xavier Munford.
Thomas showed his range for the Buckeyes, hitting three of his six shots from behind the arc.
This was Ohio State's first game away from home, and its first on a neutral court.
The Buckeyes had been scheduled to play the Carrier Classic on the USS Yorktown in South Carolina, but that game had to be cancelled because of condensation on the court. There are no plans to reschedule it.
Rhode Island, which came into the game off losses to Norfolk State and Virginia Tech, is rebuilding after a 7-24 season.
Hurley is expecting some growing pains in his first season with the Rams, who have just eight eligible scholarship players. Three others are transfers sitting out this season.
Ohio State plays Sunday against the winner of the game between Seton Hall and Washington. Rhode Island will play in the consolation game against the loser of that game.
This is the same tournament that Kentucky won last season in an early test for its young team, which eventually won the national title.
With the loss, Rhode Island falls to 89-12 all-time against ranked opponents, and has lost 20 straight games against ranked teams, since beating No. 25 Utah in December 1998.
The game was played before a partisan Rhode Island crowd at the Mohegan Sun arena, which is the home of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, and is about a 40-mile drive south of Rhode Island's campus on Interstate 95.