The Turning Point - Illinois vs Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman
The Buckeyes built a 47-32 halftime lead. All was good and well...until the second half started, that is.
Illinois went on an 11-2 run, capped by Crandall Head beating Jon
Diebler on a backdoor screen. Head's basket made it 49-43 with
14:55 remaining. It was the closest the Illini had been
since it was a five-point game with 5:18 left in the first half.
With Ohio State's momentum gone, and their leading scorer William
Buford in a newly-found field goal funk, David Lighty did something
that he had only done four times in his previous 24 attempts--he made a
And it was the turning point of the game.
Lighty had missed his previous two attempts on the night, but when his
third attempt found him alone at the top of the key, there was no
hesitation. Even though the ball didn't seem to want to go in--it
rattled several times before falling through--momentum and gravity
eventually won out.
Stubborn like an old car on a cold morning, that shot was.
That single basket didn't just get the Buckeyes going, it got Lighty
going. Two possessions later, he picked off a pass and went coast to
coast, getting fouled on a layup attempt. He made both free throws. The
six-point lead was now eleven.
On the very next possession he
grabbed another steal, raced down court and crammed it on Crandall
Head's head. He also got fouled in the process. After the free throw, what
used to be a six-point lead was now 14.
Two possessions later, Lighty simply took the ball out of Demetri
McCamey's hands and ran down the court and laid it in for two more. It
was a 10-0 run for David Lighty, and the Buckeyes now led it 59-43.
After an easy dunk by Mike Tisdale, the Buckeyes came down court and
immediately looked for Lighty. He didn't disappoint. He drilled a
baseline three-pointer, giving the Buckeyes their largest lead of the
game at 62-45.
Lighty picked up three steals and outscored Illinois 13-2 during this
run, and did it all in the span of less than three minutes. For
Illinois coach Bruce Weber, it was impressive, but not necessarily
“I've said since the beginning, I
love him," Weber said.
"I think he's the MVP. He probably won't get it because
people aren't smart enough. He's their heart and soul. In the
second half, we make the run and then he just took over the game. He
does everything that you need to to win the game. Lighty is their
heart and soul, and he's the reason they win.”
He certainly was on this night.
Sure, the Buckeyes may have been able to survive Illinois' comeback
attempt without Lighty, but there was no way they were going to turn
this game on its heels the way he did.
It wasn't just his 13 points--he
also took three scoring opportunities away from the Illini, and with
the way they were shooting the three-pointer, that's three possessions
the Buckeyes didn't need Illinois having.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and keep my hands in the lanes and play good defense,” said the King of Modesty.
Yes, and Michelangelo was just trying to paint a ceiling and open the room a little bit.
David Lighty took over a game,
offensively and defensively, and he did it so well and so emphatically,
that he only had to do it for three minutes to put the game out of
After his run, there was still
over eleven minutes left on the clock, but the closest Illinois could
come was nine points--and that lasted all of twelve seconds.
It all started with one bullheaded three-pointer that didn't seem to want to fall. Too bad it had no choice.
Fall it did, just like the Illini, and the Buckeyes have David
Lighty to thank for both. His impact weighed heavy on this game, but
when Buckeye coach Thad Matta talked about Lighty's impact, he didn't
limit it to just one game.
"I think they should put a statue in front of the Schottenstein Center
of David Lighty for just what he's meant to this program," Matta said.
Sure, go ahead and put a statue of David Lighty in front of the arena.
Just don't be surprised when he ends up stealing it.
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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