COLUMBUS -- A week after shooting as if they were blindfolded, 10th-ranked Ohio State regained its touch.
Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and four others also hit double digits as the Buckeyes shot 57 percent from the field in an 87-44 victory over Chicago State on Saturday.
"When we made our first shot today, I turned to the coaches and said, `Hey, we're 1 for 1. That's 1,000 percent. This is awesome," coach Thad Matta said, smiling. "I was pleased with how we shot the ball today."
The game was Ohio State's first since losing 74-66 to No. 6 Kansas a week earlier. In that game, the Buckeyes played good defense and worked to get open on offense but could not hit shots -- even when unguarded. They mustered just 31 percent shooting from the field (20 of 65).
Against Chicago State, they hit 33 of 58 shots from the field including 8 of 17 3-pointers (47 percent).
Much of that success came after the Buckeyes had tried to shoot over a Chicago State zone. After a while, however, they decided to go inside more and drive to the basket. That strategy paid huge dividends.
"If you look at the numbers, we shot more game-like shots throughout practice and the week we had off," said point guard Aaron Craft, who ended up with 10 points -- his first double-figure scoring game since November. "We're taking shooting a little more seriously."
LaQuinton Ross added 15 points, Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 13, Amedeo Della Valle had a career-high 11 for the Buckeyes (10-2), who complete an eight-game homestand when they host Nebraska in the Big Ten opener on Wednesday.
Ohio State built a 37-24 lead at the half but then completely overwhelmed the Cougars.
"They came out in the second half and they let us know, `We're the big boys.' They came and let us know, `We are a Top-10 team," Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy said. "The second half was all Ohio State."
Quinton Pippen, a nephew of ex-Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, had 12 points for Chicago State (3-12), which fell to 0-11 away from home with its fourth straight defeat. The Cougars' regular season is half over already with one more game to play in 2012.
They don't get to go home right away, either. They play at Toledo on New Year's Eve. They also play the first two games of 2013 away, at No. 20 UNLV on Jan. 3 and then the Great West Conference opener on Jan. 12 at New Jersey Institute of Technology -- capping a seven-game road trip stretching from Oregon to Texas to Nevada and then to New Jersey.
After hitting five of their last six shots from the field to end the half and build that 13-point lead, the Buckeyes opened the second half by making their first four attempts from the field. A 10-2 blitz at the outset of the second half swelled the lead to 47-26.
The Cougars never got closer than 17 points again.
Although Ohio State shot much better from the field, it had an awful day at the free throw line. The Buckeyes managed to make just 13 of 27 free throws. It got so bad there was derisive cheering whenever a player hit a foul shot in the second half.
"I'm very disappointed about it," said Smith, who was 0 for 4 at the line. "It lets me know what I've got to work on. When I step to the line I've got to be able to knock those down."
The Buckeyes will continue to work on their shooting. They also had a bad night from the field in their only other loss, a 73-68 setback at Duke in which they shot just 33 percent from the field.
In a small surprise, 6-foot-11 Amir Williams started at center ahead of the team's only senior, 6-8 Evan Ravenel.
Williams scored four points, had four rebounds, and blocked a shot in 15 minutes. Ravenel had five points, 10 rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes.
"Amir had practiced very well and, truth be told, Evan didn't practice well," Matta said. "From the standpoint of Evan being the only senior on this team, we hold him to a pretty high standard in terms of what we expect from him day in and day out. He's been in college for five years. I'll be honest I loved what he gave us off the bench today."
The game was played on a new hardwood court at Value City Arena. This one features the outline of the state of Ohio underneath the Ohio State logo at midcourt.
Thomas said he believed the Buckeyes were ready for the trials of the Big Ten.
"Yeah, I think we are," he said. "Coach is going to have us ready for the challenge."
No. 1 DUKE 90, SANTA CLARA 77
DURHAM, N.C. -- Seth Curry scored 12 of his season-high 31 points during the late run that helped No. 1 Duke pull away for a 90-77 victory over pesky Santa Clara.
Mason Plumlee added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils (12-0), who needed a huge run late to overcome both a big game from Kevin Foster and a real scare from the Broncos (11-3).
Foster scored 18 of his 29 points in the first half, and his soaring baseline dunk put the Broncos up 45-41 with 16:30 left. But the Broncos managed just one field goal over the next 8 1/2 minutes.
Curry hit two 3-pointers and followed with three layups during the Blue Devils' 26-5 run.
Ryan Kelly had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Quinn Cook finished with 15 points for Duke, which is 12-0 for the 10th time under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils won their 101st straight nonconference game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Evan Roquemore added 17 points while Marc Trasolini and Raymond Cowels III had 10 apiece for Santa Clara.
No. 2 MICHIGAN 88, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 73
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Trey Burke had 22 points and 10 assists as No. 2 Michigan finished its non-conference schedule with a 88-73 victory over Central Michigan.
Michigan played without junior Tim Hardaway Jr. who missed the first game of his career with an ankle injury. That meant the Wolverines started three freshmen -- Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert -- along with Burke and Jordan Morgan.
Robinson had 20 points, while Stauskas finished with 19 for Michigan (13-0), which is off to the second-best start in school history. The 1985-86 Wolverines team, led by Gary Grant, Roy Tarpley and Glen Rice, started the season 16-0 on its way to a Big Ten championship.
Central Michigan (7-6) was hoping to match the success of its football team, which won the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Wednesday, but never recovered from falling behind by seven points in the first three minutes.
No. 4 LOUISVILLE 80, KENTUCKY 77
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Russ Smith scored 21 points and Chane Behanan had 20 and No. 4 Louisville ended a four-game losing streak against rival Kentucky with an up-and-down 80-77 victory.
Peyton Siva added 19 points as the Cardinals (12-1) won a hard-fought Battle of the Bluegrass. Though the Cardinals trail the series 30-15, their victory followed last spring's 69-61 national semifinal loss to the Wildcats, who went on to win their eighth national championship.
But Louisville had to withstand several charges from Kentucky to do so. The Wildcats trailed 51-34 but outscored the Cardinals 28-14 to get within 65-62 before Smith's two baskets keyed an 8-5 run to give Louisville some space.
Behanan sealed Louisville's win with late two dunks, the final one following his steal of a pass by Archie Goodwin with 18 seconds remaining.
Goodwin scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half for Kentucky (8-4).
No. 9 SYRACUSE 57, ALCORN ST. 36
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- C.J. Fair scored 13 points, Trevor Cooney added 12, all in the second half to key a late surge, and No. 9 Syracuse beat Alcorn State 57-36 in the final game of the Gotham Classic.
It was the 901st win for Orange coach Jim Boeheim, one behind Bob Knight for second place all-time among Division I men's coaches. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski leads with 939 wins.
Syracuse (11-1), coming off an 83-79 loss to Temple at Madison Square Garden a week ago, increased its home winning streak to 31 games, longest in the nation. Alcorn State (2-13), which was late arriving because of the weather, dropped to 0-9 on the road in losing its ninth straight.
Marquiz Baker, who had averaged 25.7 in three games since returning from a knee injury that had sidelined him since November of 2011, finished with 15 points to lead the Braves.
No. 12 ILLINOIS 81, AUBURN 79
CHICAGO -- Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 29 points for Illinois.
The Illini (13-1) saw an 11-point lead shrink to one in the closing minutes but they prevailed after falling to Missouri in the Braggin' Rights game a week earlier -- their first loss under coach John Groce.
Frankie Sullivan buried a 3 for Auburn (5-7) to make it 68-67 with 4:29 remaining. Illinois then hit 13 of 18 free throws the rest of the way for a rare win at the United Center, where they had dropped three straight and five of six after winning 18 in a row.
Abrams, a sophomore guard, was 6 of 11 from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line while eclipsing his previous high by seven points.
Brandon Paul finished with 13 points for Illinois but was just 3 of 12 from the field and missed all five 3-point attempts.
Sullivan led Auburn with 21 points. Rob Chubb scored 13, and Allen Payne chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but the Tigers dropped their second straight.
No. 14 FLORIDA 78, AIR FORCE 61
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kenny Boynton snapped a shooting slump with three 3-pointers in the second half, when No. 14 Florida pulled away to beat Air Force 78-61 in the second game of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.
Boynton had made only 4 of 32 from 3-point range over the previous five games, but he hit three in a span of 8 minutes to break the game open. The Gators used their superior size and smothering defense to grind down the Falcons, who shot 48 percent in the first half and 32 percent in the second half.
Florida (9-2) won for only the second time in the past four games. Air Force (8-3) fell to 2-77 against ranked teams.
NORTH CAROLINA 79, No. 20 UNLV 73
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- P.J. Hairston scored 15 points in his first career start for North Carolina.
Dexter Strickland added a season-high 16 points for the Tar Heels (10-3), who led by 15 points in the first half and by nine at the break. But UNC had to turn away a second-half surge by the Runnin' Rebels (11-2) to earn the program's 63rd straight home win against nonconference opponents.
Freshman Anthony Bennett had 15 points and 13 rebounds for UNLV, which led by a point briefly in the second half but spent most of the game in catch-up mode. Katin Reinhardt and Anthony Marshall each added 15 points for the Runnin' Rebels, who also got Mike Moser back from an elbow injury after a four-game absence.
No. 23 NORTH CAROLINA ST. 84, W. MICHIGAN 68
RALEIGH, N.C. -- C.J. Leslie scored 19 points to lead North Carolina State.
Richard Howell added 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting for the Wolfpack (10-2), who won their sixth consecutive game.
N.C. State shot 55 percent from the field, padding its NCAA-leading field goal percentage.
T.J. Warren scored 15 points, Scott Wood had 11 and Lorenzo Brown added 10 for the Wolfpack.
Nate Hutcheson scored 16 points to lead the Broncos (8-5). Shayne Whittington added 14 points and Darius Paul had 12 for Western Michigan.
No. 25 KANSAS ST. 52, UMKC 44
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Rodney McGruder scored 17 points, Thomas Gipson had 13 points and six rebounds and No. 25 Kansas State struggled to a 52-44 victory over Missouri-Kansas City.
Playing without guards Angel Rodriguez and Martavious Irving due to injuries, the Wildcats (10-2) shot just 32 percent from the field and went 2 of 10 from beyond the arc in their first game since beating then-No. 8 Florida on a neutral floor.
They certainly looked nothing like the team that beat the Gators last weekend.
Fred Chatmon had nine points and 16 rebounds for the 'Roos (4-9), who were within 40-36 with 3:11 remaining before Nino Williams' three-point play gave the Wildcats some breathing room.
McGruder's soft floater in the lane moments later helped put the game away.
NEBRASKA 68, NICHOLLS ST. 59
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Brandon Ubel scored 18 points and Nebraska held on for a 68-59 victory against Nicholls State, despite not making a field goal in the final 5:45.
Dylan Talley and David Rivers added 12 points each and Ray Gallegos 10 for the Cornhuskers (9-4), who went 10 for 10 from the free-throw line in the final minute.
Dentrall Thomas had 18 points and Amin Torres 12 for the Colonels (1-9).
Nicholls State scored eight unanswered points to cut the Nebraska lead to 58-54 on T.J. Carpenter's 3-pointer with 59 seconds left.
The Colonels used a 12-4 run to get within 53-42 on Lachlan Prest's 3-pointer with 6:17 left and made it a 10-point game on Fred Hunter's bank shot with 4:56 left that made the score 56-46.
Nicholls State made just three of its first 20 shots and finished the first half 5 of 23. The Colonels shot 59 percent in the second half.
WISCONSIN 87, SAMFORD 51
MADISON, Wis. -- Mike Bruesewitz returned to the starting lineup in style, scoring 13 points as Wisconsin closed out its non-conference schedule with an 87-51 victory over Samford.
Bruesewitz, whose total was a season high, was one of five players in double figures for the Badgers (9-4). He sustained a concussion in practice on Dec. 6, missed two games and came off the bench last Saturday in a win over Milwaukee.
Frank Kaminsky poured in a career-best 16 points, Ryan Evans added 14 points and 12 rebounds, Sam Dekker scored 12 and Jared Berggren had 10 for Wisconsin, which opened up a 30-point lead before halftime. The Badgers open Big Ten play Jan. 3 at home against Penn State.
Raijon Kelly scored 16 points to lead the Bulldogs (3-11), who missed their first five shots and trailed 13-2 just more than 5 minutes into the game.
PURDUE 73, WILLIAM & MARY 66
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Terone Johnson scored 16 points and A.J. Hammons overcame a sore right knee to finish with 14 points Saturday, leading Purdue past pesky William & Mary 73-66.
The Boilermakers (6-6) won their second straight to reach the .500 mark before starting Big Ten play. They barely avoided a fourth loss this season to a non-BCS conference school after an 11-day Christmas break.
William & Mary (7-4) was led by Marcus Thornton with 21 points and Tim Rusthoven with 16 points and six rebounds. The Tribe dropped to 1-5 all-time against Big Ten schools.
PENN ST. 84, DUQUESNE 74
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- D.J. Newbill scored a career-high 23 points and added 12 rebounds as Penn State was able to hang on throughout a foul-plagued second half to defeat Duquesne, 84-74.
The Nittany Lions won their fourth straight game by opening a 22-point second-half lead that was enough to offset a Dukes comeback.
Duquesne (7-7) pulled to within five with 56 seconds left as Penn State's Nick Colella and Jermaine Marshall fouled out and the Dukes were consistently successful from the foul line.
The Nittany Lions had pulled away about halfway through the second half with an 11-0 scoring stretch.
Colella scored a career-high 15 points and Sasa Borovnjak added 14. Sean Johnson led Duquesne with 19 points.
Penn State built a 39-28 halftime lead on the strength of runs of 11-0 and 9-0. The second run was enabled by two technical fouls called on the Duquesne bench late in the half.
TOLEDO 74, ILLINOIS-CHICAGO 55
TOLEDO -- Rian Pearson recorded his first double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Toledo pulled away to beat Illinois-Chicago 74-55 in a nonconference matchup.
Reese Holliday added 16 points, and Nathan Boothe finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks for Toledo (4-6).
Holliday made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half to help the Rockets take a 39-30 lead into halftime.
Ahead 47-40 with 15:05 left in the second half, Toledo went on an 18-5 run to push the lead to 20, 65-45, with 5:55 left to play.
Illinois-Chicago (9-4) shot 34.5 percent (10 for 29) in the second half.
Pearson scored 15 points in the second half, and Toledo made 12 of 14 free throws in the period to seal the victory.
Daniel Barnes went 6 of 10 from deep to lead the Flames with 18 points.
UMASS 64, N. ILLINOIS 59
DEKALB, Ill. -- Maxie Esho scored 14 points as Massachusetts held off Northern Illinois 64-59 Saturday for its fifth straight victory.
Chaz Williams added 12 points for the Minutemen (8-3), Freddie Riley had 11 and Terrell Vinson 10.
Abdel Nader led Northern Illinois (2-10) with 15 points and nine rebounds. Aksel Bolin added 11 points and Akeem Springs had 10.
Massachusetts broke open a close game by outscoring the Huskies 12-2 over the final 5:17 of the first half to take a 36-23 lead.
The lead remained in double figures for most of the second half until Northern Illinois went on a 12-4 run to pull within 55-52 with 4:03 remaining. The Huskies got within two, 61-59, when Nader hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left, but the Minutemen hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
OAKLAND 84, IUPUI 62
INDIANAPOLIS -- Travis Bader scored 27 points, including four 3-point baskets, to pace Oakland past IUPUI, 84-62.
Oakland (6-9, 1-1 Summit) also got 12 points from Raphel Carter, who hit all five of his shots from the field. Cory Petros scored 10 points, and Drew Valentine scored eight to go with eight rebounds and seven steals.
IUPUI (6-11, 1-3) was led by Jordan Shanklin, who scored 17 points. P.J. Hubert scored 14 points and Mitchell Patton scored 10.
Oakland hit on 52.8 percent of its field-goal attempts, and IUPUI was a bit off at 37.7.
Oakland had a 34-16 scoring advantage in the paint and outscored IUPUI 23-12 off turnovers.
YOUNGSTOWN STATE 93, MARYGROVE 52
YOUNGSTOWN -- Blake Allen and Kendrick Perry each scored 17 points and had eight and six assists, respectively, to lead Youngstown State past Marygrove 93-52 Saturday in a nonconference matchup.
Bobby Hain chipped in with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds as Youngstown State (8-5) outrebounded its NAIA opponent 51-25.
The Penguins dominated inside, outscoring the Mustangs 50-24 in the paint.
Trailing 4-3 early, Youngstown State outscored Marygrove 40-13 the rest of the first half. Allen and Perry combined for seven 3-pointers in the half, and the Penguins held Marygrove to 30.8 percent shooting in the period to take a 43-17 lead into halftime.
Youngstown State led by as many as 42 points in the second half.
Marygrove (1-15) had two players score in double figures, Zamarre Neely finished with 13 points and Diante Taylor had 11.
TENNESSEE 51, XAVIER 47
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Josh Richardson scored 12 points and Tennessee used a 19-3 second-half run to beat Xavier, 51-47.
The Volunteers (8-3) trailed 33-23 early in the second half before holding the Musketeers (7-5) without a field goal for more than 10 minutes.
Derrick Reese knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:14 left to give Tennessee a 38-35 lead. It was the Vols' first lead since being ahead 7-6 at the 12-minute mark of the first half.
Xavier cut Tennessee's lead to 44-43 with just over two minutes remaining on Travis Taylor's layup, but a lay-in by Jordan McRae and five free throws by Trae Golden preserved the Tennessee victory.