COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Jae’Sean Tate scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Ohio State overcame cold shooting and some ugly play to beat North Carolina Central 69-63 Monday night.
Ohio State (2-0) struggled for much of the game and let the Eagles hang around. The Buckeyes shot just 46.4 percent from the floor and were lucky to get away with the victory over the less-talented Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, North Carolina Central (0-2) was sloppier, committing 20 turnovers and losing two players to fouls.
Patrick Cole carried the load for the NCCU with 26 points. Ron Trapps added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Freshman center Micah Potter added 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the 3-point line for the Buckeyes, and Keita Bates-Diop had nine.
Ohio State led 31-29 after a slow start by both teams in first half. The Buckeyes had a 12-0 run and led by as much as 21-11 with 9:17 left in the first, but allowed North Carolina Central to slowly climb back. The Eagles briefly had a lead until Tate hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the half.
Ohio State starting forward Marc Loving sat much of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first 1:15 of the game.
North Carolina Central led 32-31 with 18:46 to go in the game, but the Buckeyes slowly pulled away.
North Carolina Central: If there’s such thing as a moral victory, the Eagles got one by staying with the Buckeyes for most of the game. In the end, the best the Eagles got from the trip to Columbus is a chance to hone their game against a more-talented team. They nearly pulled off the upset.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes were put on notice that this year’s version still needs a lot of work. Fortunately there are more tune-up games before conference play begins after Christmas.
North Carolina Central plays Wednesday at Western Carolina.
Ohio State stays home to play Providence Thursday night.