Sunday, December 14, 2003

Fuss-Cheatham on target for OSU

Ohio State 80, Samford 62

By Rusty Miller
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Brandon Fuss-Cheatham may have finally become an integral part of Ohio State's team on Saturday.

Maligned for his awful shooting and bad decisions in two previous seasons with the Buckeyes, Fuss-Cheatham had a career-high 11 points, played solid defense and ran the offense in Ohio State's 80-62 victory over Samford.

Velimir Radinovic scored 19 points, Tony Stockman came off the bench to score 16, J.J. Sullinger had 13 and Matt Sylvester had 10 for the Buckeyes (4-3), who climbed over the .500 mark for the first time after an 0-2 start.

But it was Fuss-Cheatham's turnaround that put a smile on coach Jim O'Brien's face.

"If Brandon gets to the point where he makes a few shots - and he has to know this - his world is going to open up for him," O'Brien said. "He gets himself into the lane, finds guys and he can get to the basket. If he starts making some shots, automatically he becomes a very good player for us.

"His world will open, our world will open up as a team. It's very encouraging to see him make a few shots."

Ohio State came in hitting 44 percent of its shots from the field but made 57 percent against the Bulldogs (2-4).

Fuss-Cheatham hit four of his five shots - he'd never made more than three field goals in any of his previous 57 collegiate games. For his Ohio State career, he came in having hit just 29 of 124 shots from the field for a laughably bad 23 percent shooting.

"I had some easy shots, shots in transition that I can make," the 6-foot-1 point guard said. "I don't know. I just felt better out there. It seemed like on my jump shot I wasn't jumping as much. Coach was telling me I was using my legs too much."

Radinovic made all six of his shots in the first half and ended up 7 of 8 from the field.

The Buckeyes used a 16-0 run to take a 42-32 lead at the half while hitting 65 percent of their shots. After Samford got to within three points midway through the second half, the Buckeyes pulled away again with an 11-0 spurt.

Samford, which is moving up to the Ohio Valley Conference this season, relied on 3-point shooting to get back in the game in the second half. The Bulldogs, who finished 11 of 27 behind the arc, pulled to 52-49 on Phillip Ramelli's 3-pointer with 12:03 left.

Four players scored for Ohio State over the next 5 minutes, led by Radinovic's four free throws and a 3-pointer by Stockman. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on all four of their possessions during Ohio State's run which led to a 63-49 lead at the 8:14 mark.

J. Robert Merritt had 16 points for the Bulldogs,with Ramelli adding 14.

"I thought Ohio State played well today," Samford coach Jimmy Tillette said. "I don't know what coach O'Brien felt. I know coming in he hasn't been particularly pleased with his team."

That's putting it mildly. O'Brien said he has been rougher on this team than any he has ever had.

"I have not been very nice to these guys over the last week or two," O'Brien said. "It's been hard for me to do that, but I think I need to continue."

As they have for most of the season, the Buckeyes got off to a slow start. They trailed 18-12 after Josh Hare's free throw with 11:46 left in the half.

But the Buckeyes reeled off the next 16 points while holding the Bulldogs scoreless for almost 5 minutes. Samford, which finished with 16 turnovers, turned the ball over on its first four possessions. After missing a shot the Bulldogs turned it over twice more.

In the meantime, Stockman hit a 3-pointer and two baskets and Sylvester, added a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper.

"We just tried to take them out of what they can do," said Stockman, the primary resident of O'Brien's doghouse in the early going. "We didn't talk much about wearing them down, but I guess we did - and that helped us."

Next for OSU

Wednesday: at home vs. Furman, 8 p.m. tipoff

SAMFORD (2-4)-Merritt 6-9 0-0 16, Harper 2-7 2-2 6, Ramelli 6-8 0-0 14, Dorsey 3-8 0-0 9, LoPiano 1-2 0-0 3, Mills 0-3 0-0 0, J.Smith 1-1 2-2 5, Boerjan 1-1 2-2 4, Hare 1-3 1-2 3, Sachse 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 22-45 7-9 62.

OHIO ST. (4-3)-T.Dials 1-3 5-5 7, Radinovic 7-8 5-6 19, Sullinger 4-11 5-7 13, Fuss-Cheatham 4-5 2-2 11, Billings 0-2 0-0 0, Bass 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Stockman 6-11 0-0 16, N.Dials 0-0 0-0 0, Nwankwo 0-0 0-0 0, S.Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Sylvester 4-7 0-0 10, Jenkins 2-2 0-0 4, Marinchick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-49 17-20 80.

Halftime-Ohio St. 42, Samford 32. 3-point goals-Samford 11-27 (Merritt 4-7, Dorsey 3-8, Ramelli 2-3, J.Smith 1-1, LoPiano 1-1, Hare 0-1, Harper 0-3, Mills 0-3), Ohio St. 7-15 (Stockman 4-6, Sylvester 2-4, Fuss-Cheatham 1-1, Billings 0-1, Sullinger 0-3). Assists-Samford 17 (Merritt 5), Ohio St. 11 (Sylvester 3).

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