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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Keita Bates-Diop had the best first half of his short Ohio State career when the Buckeyes needed him the most.
That's when the sophomore scored 17 of his career-high 24 points to help Ohio State win its fourth straight with a 73-57 victory against South Carolina State on Sunday night.
Bates-Diop was 8 for 14 from the floor, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers, and tied a career-high with 10 rebounds.
"My teammates found me in the right spots and I was really open most of the time," he said.
With leading scorer Marc Loving shut out in the first half and playmaker JaQuan Lyle struggling to score, the Buckeyes turned to Bates-Diop.
By the half, he topped his previous OSU best of 16 points set Nov 20. against Texas Arlington. He made 5 of 7 3-pointers while his teammates missed all eight tries from beyond the arc.
Despite that, the Buckeyes led 34-21.
"Marc and JaQuan can't have bad first halves," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Marc did a very nice job of coming back into the game. He got Keita a couple of shots and got him going but with this group, we can't have a couple of guys who are just OK or not into what we're trying to do. It's got be a collective group for us to be an effective basketball team."
The Buckeyes completed their nonconference schedule with an 8-5 record.
Kam Williams added 12 points for Ohio State, and Trevor Thompson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Gabriel McCray had 17 points and Ed Stephens scored 11 for South Carolina State (5-9), which lost its fourth straight.
The Buckeyes were too much to handle, especially inside. They had six of their nine blocked shots in the first half.
"Their length really bothered us," South Carolina State coach Murray Garvin said. "The great thing about it is we don't have to beat Ohio State in our league.
"Anytime you can put no one on shorter than 6-foot-7 on the floor, it creates an optical illusion out there. For them to block nine shots, we haven't had a game this year where anybody blocked that amount. They blocked jump shots. They blocked layups."
South Carolina State: The Bulldogs were picked to finish eighth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll. They are 1-1 in league play. ... South Carolina State doesn't have any players from Ohio but director of athletics Paul Bryant is from Dayton.
Ohio State: Although the Buckeyes played the Bulldogs for the first time, they are familiar with the MEAC having compiled a 19-0 record vs. current members. The most recent meeting prior to Sunday was last season, a 97-55 win against North Carolina A &T.
QUOTABLE: Garvin was impressed with the speed of Ohio State guard A.J. Harris, who had five assists in the second half with four of them leading to alley-oops dunks. "He changed the tempo of the game. Also, picking up our point guard full court got us out of rhythm. He's so quick, he turns off the lights and can be in bed before it gets dark."
South Carolina State plays at Akron on Wednesday.
Ohio State opens the Big Ten season on Wednesday by hosting Minnesota.
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