No. 6 Ohio State proved its undefeated start wasn't a mirage with a 74-49 road win over No. 7 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Duane Washington Jr. led all scorers with 18 points, but it was the defense that came through with another strong effort to help the Buckeyes (8-0) earn their biggest win of the season. The visitors led by just two points at halftime but dominated the second half with a 45-22 advantage to secure the win.
Though Ohio State had been dominating opponents, most of the games came on home court against inferior opponents. That wasn't the case Wednesday, as the Big Ten squad took care of business at the Dean Smith Center.
Cole Anthony did his job with 15 points, but it wasn't enough for North Carolina (6-2) to avoid a second loss in the last three games.
- Cole Anthony, G, UNC: 15 points, 3 assists
- Garrison Brooks, F, UNC: 8 points, 7 rebounds
- Kaleb Wesson, F, Ohio State: 10 points, 9 rebounds
- Duane Washington Jr., G, Ohio State: 18 points, 5 rebounds
Ohio State Showcases Elite Defense in Win
While some might have questioned the competition, Ohio State has been dominant defensively this season while keeping every opponent under 60 points. The squad entered the day with the No. 2 adjusted defensive rating in the country, per KenPom.com.
The Buckeyes showed against North Carolina that the defense is legitimate.
UNC was completely shut down in the first half, shooting just 28.6 percent from the field. Although the score was close, it was only thanks to the Ohio State turnovers.
The passing was better for the Buckeyes in the second half, creating better offense while Washington continued to make big shots from beyond the arc.
What was constant, however, was the defense, as North Carolina had few easy looks at any point in the game. The Tar Heels were forced to take bad shots almost every time in the half court, finishing 27.4 percent shooting overall and only getting energy when the backups came into the game.
The effort helped raise expectations for the Big Ten squad going forward:
While North Carolina hadn't been great offensively this season, the Buckeyes showcased a defense that will take them far this year.
Cole Anthony Gets Little Help for North Carolina
Anthony was reportedly under the weather pregame and was questionable to even play, per the ESPN broadcast. He then took a hard hit during the game that caused him to bleed from his forehead.
Still, he remained the constant go-to option for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels had already been struggling offensively this season, and the team got weaker when Armando Bacot went down with an ankle injury in the first half. He never returned after playing just seven minutes, scoring two points.
This was a significant loss for UNC considering Bacot's contributions in recent games.
Anthony tried to pick up the slack but struggled as a shooter, finishing 4-of-15 from the field. He was just 2-of-10 in the first half with North Carolina held to 27 points.
The freshman did showcase his ability at times, though, including back-to-back threes in the second half to get UNC back into the game.
Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough help around him, as no one stepped up in Bacot's absence.
Second-leading scorer Garrison Brooks was held to eight points while no one else reached double figures. Outside of a short spurt from the end of the bench, it was a quiet night from the home team.
As well as Anthony has played this year, the Tar Heels will have a disappointing season without more help around him.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for North Carolina, which will go on the road to face No. 5 Virginia on Sunday. Ohio State will open up conference play Saturday with a home game against Penn State.