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Ross sheds slump, No. 7 Buckeyes romp, 99-64

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- LaQuinton Ross broke out of a frigid shooting spell by scoring 17 points Friday night and No. 7 Ohio State rode a 19-point first-half run to a 99-64 victory over North Florida.

Amir Williams and Amedeo Della each hit career highs for the Buckeyes (6-0), with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Aaron Craft added 16 points, making his first 3-pointer of the season, while Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10.

Beau Beech and Dallas Moore each had 14 points and Charles McRoy 11 for North Florida (4-4), which fell to 0-16 against ranked teams and 0-6 against teams in the Top 10.

It was the 100th collegiate win for Craft and Smith Jr., who reached that figure in 119 games -- faster than any Ohio State player.

Ross hit 6 of 9 shots from the field and 4 of 7 3-pointers after struggling all year to find his shot. He had a terrific run in the NCAA tournament a year ago, coming off the bench to give the Buckeyes instant offense on the way to the regional championship game.

This year he was expected to replace departed Big Ten scoring leader Deshaun Thomas, but came in shooting just 22 percent from the field and averaging 6.2 points a game. Over the last the three games he was only 2 for 20 from the field including 1 for 8 behind the arc.

But he came out cool and confident against the Ospreys, however. He hit all four shots from the field -- including both 3-pointers -- while picking up 10 points in the opening half as Ohio State built a 48-29 lead.

The Buckeyes, who came in shooting 42 percent on the season, were hot from the outset. They made their first eight shots from the field and finished the half 19 of 27 for 70 percent.

They finished 36 of 52 on field goals for 69 percent.

North Florida hit its first three shots from the field to build a 6-5 lead, but then went scoreless for more than 6 minutes while the Buckeyes ran off 19 points in a row to take the lead for good. The Ospreys were 0 for 8 from the field with six turnovers, while over that same span Ohio State hit 7 of 8 shots from the field and had two turnovers.

Craft had three layups, Williams and Smith Jr. each had five points and Ross hit a 3 in the spurt.

North Florida came back to score 14 of the next 18 -- Beech hit two 3s and Davenport added one -- to cut the lead to 28-20.

But with freshman Marc Loving scoring five points, Ross making a 3 and another perimeter jumper, and Craft scoring on a left-handed scoop shot while getting knocked to the floor, the Buckeyes pulled away again.

Already up by 19 at the break, Ohio State put it out of reach by scoring 11 of the first 13 points in the second half to swell the lead to 59-31. Ross had four points in that early rally.

It was the second meeting between the teams, with the Buckeyes winning 85-50 at home on Nov. 21, 2011.

The game was the Ospreys' 29th game over the last five years in they got a guarantee to provide a bigger-name home team's opposition. In those games, UNF is 2-27 with the wins coming at Southern Mississippi (53-46) and at Wyoming (76-60).

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

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