Ohio State wasted no time in celebrating the start of the season, scoring the first 22 points in the No. 23 Buckeyes' 94-67 defeat of Illinois State at an empty Value City Arena in Columbus on Wednesday.
California transfer Justice Sueing in his first game for the Buckeyes made his first eight shots before missing his final one for 19 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
Antonio Reeves had 17 points and Josiah Strong scored 15 for the Redbirds.
E.J. Liddell, one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten last season, put his stamp on the game with five points in the opening 67 seconds en route to his 16 points and the rout was on against the inexperienced Redbirds of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Duane Washington Jr. and freshman Zed Key added 12 points for the Buckeyes.
Illinois State has no seniors on the roster after Keith Fisher (9.6 points, team-high 6.0 rebounds per game last season) opted out three weeks ago because of COVID-19 concerns. Also, junior college transfer Dusan Mahorcic, a 6-10, 230-pound forward, was injured.
The Redbirds missed their first 10 shots and didn't get on the board until a free throw by Dedric Boyd with 13:36 left in the first half.
Despite the early deficit, Illinois State used a 7-0 run to pull to within 42-25 at the half.
But the Buckeyes were too deep and too strong and stretched the lead to 37 at 82-45 with 6:25 remaining.
Per state and county COVID-19 guidelines no fans were allowed, and parents of the players and staff were also not permitted to attend.
In a unique scheduling quirk because of cancellations due to the coronavirus, each team's next game is against UMass Lowell at Value City Arena. Illinois State plays the River Hawks on Saturday afternoon and the Buckeyes play them 23 hours later.
--Field Level Media