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Buckeyes Take Another Step Forward with 66-38 Win Over Western Carolina
By John Porentas

COLUMBUS, Oh - The revival of Ohio State basketball took another step forward tonight as the Buckeyes (4-0) defeated Western Carolina (1-4) by a final of 66-38.

The Buckeyes weren't overwhelming offensively against the Catamounts, but put forth a defensive effort that left head coach Thad Matta smiling. OSU held the opposition to 27.5 percent shooting from the floor and came up with 11 steals against Western Carolina The defensive effort took the Catamounts out of the game from start to finish. Their only lead was at 4-0, but the Buckeyes quickly jumped out to a seven point lead at 11-4 and never really looked back. 

"That was our best defensive effort in a long time," said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta. 

OSU's defense was tough and tenacious but the offensive end was not what Matta or the Buckeyes wanted. They didn't play with the same energy on the offensive end and were prone to small mistakes that led to empty possessions. Western Carolina also held the ball deep into the shot clock thereby reducing the number of possessions in the game and further limiting the scoring. Still, the defensive effort led to a game that was never in doubt.

"I told Kam this is the biggest win (point differential) that I've had since I've been here, 28 points," said Lyle.  "Last year we wouldn't have won by this much. It just shows that we're growing."

The one-sided win could have been even more lopsided had the Buckeyes been sharp offensively. 

"We just weren't running the offense with a purpose," said Lyle "I think that was the biggest thing. We just ran our offense just to run it," said Lyle. 

Matta saw the same thing out of the Buckeye offense, but thinks it's something that can be fixed.

"We're not thinking the game, we're not making the easy play," said Matta.  "Transition tonight we didn't convert the way wanted, we held the ball a little too much, guys weren't running where they were supposed to," said Matta. 

"We weren't as sharp or connected as we needed to be offensively.  The first couple shots in the post we just sort of threw them up there.  It was not even off the finger tips or anything like that.  Those are things we have to get corrected."

Lyle led the OSU scoring with 17 points. Jae'Sean Tate contributed 14, Kam Williams 13 and Trevor Williams 10 off the bench.  Williams also added a team-high eight rebounds.  

Injured forward Kaeta Bates-Diop was replaced in the starting lineup by Kam Williams as Matta with a three-guard lineup. Freshman Andre Wesson saw considerable action in the absence of Bates-Diop and responded with five points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of play. 

Bates-Diop injured an ankle last week against Northern Carolina. Matta reported that he is no longer wearing a boot and is day to day for his return to action. 

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