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Last updated: 02/23/2011 0:57 AM

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Men's Basketball
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 three-pointer.

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 surprising.

“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 reach.

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. 

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