COLUMBUS — As a diehard believer in Big Blue Nation, Chris Holtmann’s mother, Patty, holds a few Kentucky coaches dear to her heart. On the eve of High Point coming to Value City Arena, the second-year Ohio State men’s basketball coach said that list included the Panthers’ Tubby Smith, who in his first season with the Wildcats led them to the 1998 national championship.

Now four schools removed from that time, including a six-year run at Minnesota from 2008 to 2013, Smith made a one-day foray back into the Big Ten on Saturday. How’d it go?

“Not good,” he said with a chuckle.

Against a High Point team that Holtmann was convinced would provide a disciplined, well-coached, final nonconference challenge, the No. 13 Buckeyes overcame a first-half lull, seized control by halftime and cruised to an 82-64 win over Smith’s Panthers.

At 12-1, it’s the best start in Holtmann’s eight seasons as a Division I coach and the best for the Buckeyes since they won their first 15 games of the 2013-14 season. It also largely came about thanks to freshman guard Luther Muhammad, who scored a career-high 15 points, limited High Point leading scorer Jahaad Proctor to four points — well short of his 22.3 average — and helped Ohio State turn back a first-half Panthers run.

“It was just staying within the game, taking the right shots and doing what you do best,” Muhammad said.

Much like when the Buckeyes played Youngstown State 11 days earlier, it got ugly for a while. They led 14-6 only 5:09 into the game after Muhammad made back-to-back deep 3-pointers from the same spot in front of the Panthers’ bench, but Ricky Madison started a 16-2 run when he made a jumper with his foot on the line as the shot clock buzzed with 12:48 left

It gave High Point (6-7) a 22-16 lead when Proctor scored on a layup with 7:04 to play. The Buckeyes missed 8-of-9 shots from the field, the front end of a one-and-one and turned it over twice. Holtmann was so incensed at a forced jumper that he punched the scorers’ table.

Kaleb Wesson ended the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 6:35 to play to make it a 22-19 deficit. Three possessions later, he made another to reclaim the lead for good at 25-24 with 4:57 to play.

From there, order was restored. Ohio State closed the half on a 21-6 run, during which the Buckeyes scored 13 consecutive points.

C.J. Jackson scored 20 points, giving him back-to-back games of 20-plus-points for the first time, and Wesson added 17.