Two hours before Ohio State opened its season Wednesday, D.J. Carton was taking a few extra early shots on the Value City Arena court. In between his scarlet and gray Nikes and a scarlet Ohio State long-sleeve shirt, the freshman prepared for his debut while wearing a pair of black-and-yellow pants from his high school alma mater in Bettendorf, Iowa.
It was a blend of the past and present that would be replicated on the court in the win against Cincinnati. Still adjusting to the pace of the collegiate game, Carton helped keep the Bearcats at bay during the second half with a quick scoring burst.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
First came the drive that ESPN's "SportsCenter" named the day’s No. 4 highlight: an acrobatic, up-and-under layup with 8:12 to play. After Cincinnati scored at the other end to pull back within three points, Carton hit the first three-pointer of his career.
Five of his nine points came in that 37-second span. As he has prepared for a home game Sunday against UMass Lowell, it was a reminder of what he can — and can’t — do at this level.
“One thing I learned when I got here was you can’t play like that all the time at this level,” Carton said. “I’ve been working really hard on playing with more poise.”
As a reserve, Carton played 25 minutes against Cincinnati, the most among Ohio State’s guards. He posted an identical stat line to junior CJ Walker, who sat out all last season after transferring from Florida State, by finishing with two assists and four turnovers.
“We’ve got to get better with that across the board,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “A little bit of youth, CJ getting his feet under him. I thought we were good, we just had a couple careless plays.”