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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the first four games of the season, just about everybody was playing well for Ohio State except LaQuinton Ross. On Saturday, he was one of the few Buckeyes who had a good game -- and it made a world of difference. Ross scored four of his career-high 23 points in a 10-0 second-half run, leading No. 5 Ohio State past Central Connecticut State 74-56. "I knew I was going to come around eventually," Ross said after hitting 9 of 13 shots from the field and adding six rebounds and an assist. "Ive been playing basketball all my life. Everybody goes through situations, struggles, out there on the court. It was just something I had to get through. I knew I would get through it eventually." After shooting 22 per cent from the field at the start of the season, Ross is shooting 63 per cent over his last three games. On a day when the Buckeyes (8-0) were lethargic at both ends, his shooting kept them in the lead and eventually put the game out of reach. "Our mindset wasnt right," said Lenzelle Smith, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half. "It was just us. We werent ready to play when we came out of the tunnel." The Blue Devils (2-6) certainly were. Their 3-2 zone befuddled the Buckeyes. They got back quickly to snuff Ohio States transition game. And they took their time on offence, working for good shots while shooting 46 per cent for the game. "We came in here knowing Ohio State is as good as any team in the country," coach Howie Dickenman said. "We wanted to gain some respect; I thought we gained some respect." The Buckeyes had won the only previous meeting between the teams in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament. The top-ranked Buckeyes, behind Greg Odens 19 points and 10 rebounds, beat the Blue Devils 78-57. Ohio State would advance to the national championship game, losing to defending champion Florida. The Blue Devils scored six of the last eight points in the first half to cut a 14-point deficit to 38-29. "It was sarcasm and angry at the same time," Ross said of coach Thad Mattas halftime talk in the locker room. "He tried to keep cool because he feels like were a veteran team and some of the mistakes we were making we shouldnt have made. I know for a fact he was upset. I think the whole team knew it." Ahead 38-29 at the break, the Buckeyes had difficulty finishing off the pesky Blue Devils. The lead hovered around 10 points until Ohio State broke free from a 49-41 lead with a quick run. It started with a steal by Amedeo Della Valle that led to Smiths dunk. After a CCSU miss, Sam Thompson hit a baseline jumper and, following a Blue Devils turnover, Aaron Craft fought through the traffic in the lane for a spinning layup that made it 55-41 -- matching Ohio States biggest lead to that point. Soon after, the Buckeyes forced a shot-clock violation and Ross muscled inside for a bucket. He then stole the ball near midcourt and drove coast to coast for another layup and an 18-point lead. The Blue Devils never seriously threatened again. Faronte Drakeford led them with 12 points and Matt Mobley added 10. CCSU outrebounded the Buckeyes 29-28 and didnt back down in the paint at either end. Matta said he hoped his team gained from the game. "Honestly, I said this is one we have to learn from it, but by the same token you have to wash it down the drain in the shower," he said he told the team afterward. "We must be a better basketball team (in our next game) than we were today." A crowd of 13,640 was as reserved as the Buckeyes most of the game. Maybe it was the lack of students, a midlevel opponent, the frosty weather outside or Ohio States impending Big Ten football championship game on Saturday night, but there were long stretches when the crowd was relatively quiet. Smith was asked if he would be watching the Buckeyes second-ranked football team go for the conference title in Indianapolis against Michigan State. "Absolutely!" he said with a laugh. Billy Price Bengals Jersey . There, I saw a teenaged boy with tears in his eyes, being consoled by strength and conditioning coach Randy Lee. Preston Brown Jersey . -- Mississippi State was crushed twice by Florida last season, once by 35 points and the other by 25. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Bengals-Sam-Hubbard-Jersey/.com) - The Ottawa Senators will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they face the Chicago Blackhawks who are trying to secure their place in the post-season. Mark Walton Jersey .Y. -- The New York Islanders were seeking a positive finish to a frustrating season on home ice. Malik Jefferson Bengals Jersey . -- Justin Verlander took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and won his fourth straight decision, leading Detroit over the Kansas City Royals 9-4 Sunday and extending the Tigers winning streak to a season-high five games.HOUSTON -- This is how Dwight Howard plays when hes healthy. Howard had 17 points and a career-high-tying 26 rebounds in his Houston debut, James Harden added 21 points and the Rockets cruised to a 96-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. Howard spurned the Lakers to sign an $88 million deal with Houston, joining Harden and a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009. He said he rushed back too quickly from off-season back surgery last year and never felt quite right in his one disappointing season with Los Angeles. He believes hes returned to form since arriving in Houston and on Wednesday night he showed it. When asked if he could have had a game like this last season, he chuckled. "Physically, I doubt it," he said. "Not the way I did tonight." He said there were times last season that he just couldnt do things he was used to doing. "My mind was at the ball, but my body was still on the other side," he said. "I couldnt do it. Im a lot healthier than I was last season." It was the 63rd 20-plus rebound game of his career, but he was hoping for more. "I really was trying to get 30," he said. "I said coming in tonight that I wanted to get 30 rebounds. I was upset that I didnt do it, but Ill try the next game." The Rockets led by four points in the fourth quarter before using a 14-4 run to extend the lead to 86-72 with about 3 1/2 minutes left. Harden tossed an alley-oop to Howard for a dunk during that span. The crowd roared as Howard pointed and smiled at his new teammate. "He was amazing," Harden said. "Running the floor, rebounding the basketball ... and finishing the basketball. You know, doing what he does. Hes a game changer." Another dunk by Howard, this one a two-handed slam, capped the spurt. Howard didnt want to talk too much about how big this first game was after his off-season talk of joining the Rockets to help them win championships. "I didnt want to put any pressure on myself," he said. "I just wanted to go out there and play and have fun and get back to being who I am as a player. I think when you focus too much on that and what everybody else is saying thats when you dont play like you want to play." Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said dealing with both Harden and Howard was difficult. "They played to their strengths and we werent able to hold them when we needed to," he said. The Bobcats were led by Josh MMcRoberts, who had 15 points.dddddddddddd Houston coach Kevin McHale stayed with the big lineup he first used late in the preseason with 7-footer Omer Asik at centre and Howard at power forward. But he switched things up and started Patrick Beverley over Jeremy Lin at point guard. Beverley injured his ribs in the second quarter and didnt return. Lin received stitches to his chin, but returned to the game. Harden was dealing with a sore wrist and back, but said hed be OK by Houstons next game on Friday. Beverley finished with five points and Lin added 16. Francisco Garcia had five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points. Al Jefferson started after missing most of the preseason with a sprained right ankle. Jefferson, who signed a three-year, $41 million deal in the off-season, had 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes. "I was a little rusty and I most definitely am not in game shape and I missed a lot of shots I would normally make," he said. Houston led by eight points after a putback layup by Howard early in the third quarter. Jefferson got the Bobcats going after that, scoring four points in a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 51-48. A 3-pointer by McRoberts about three minutes later got Charlotte within 57-56. But Lin answered with a 3-pointer that was the first of six straight points for Houston, which pushed the lead to 63-56. Houston led 67-61 at the end of the third quarter. Charlotte is looking to bounce back from a terrible two-year stretch where the team posted an NBA-worst 28-120 record. They added Jefferson and drafted Cody Zeller with the fourth overall pick in an attempt to bolster the lineup. Zeller had two points and four rebounds in about 15 minutes. Howard was given what at first was called a flagrant foul after what looked like a light push at the midsection of McRoberts with about two minutes remaining in the first half. McRoberts got in Howards face after the foul before teammates pulled him away. The play was reviewed and changed to a personal foul, but Howard went to the bench anyway. McRoberts made both free throws and Howard returned in the third quarter. NOTES: The Rockets picked up the third-year option on the contracts of forward Terrence Jones and forward/centre Donatas Motiejunas on Wednesday. ... Former Rockets star Tracy McGrady, who retired from the NBA this summer, watched the game from a courtside seat next to team owner Leslie Alexander and got a loud ovation when he was introduced during a timeout in the second quarter. 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