Buckeye Backcourt Buries Gophers
By Brandon Castel
The Buckeyes had won only one game at Williams Arena since Thad Matta took over the program back in 2004, but David Lighty wasn’t going to let that stand between his team and perfection.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Lighty was a member of the 2006-07 team that beat Minnesota at “The Barn” four years ago. He scored only one point in that game, but had 13 in the first half of Sunday’s 82-69 win over the Gophers (16-7, 5-6 Big Ten).
Ohio State’s veteran backcourt of Lighty, William Buford and Jon Diebler combined for 43 points as the top-ranked Buckeyes (24-0, 11-0) won their eighth-straight road game to start the season. Freshman Jared Sullinger had an off shooting night, but still finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.
Lighty got the Buckeyes out to an early 6-4 lead, and Buford made it a five-point game with a silky-smooth three from the top of the arc off a great screen by Sullinger. Diebler made it a 12-6 game with his first three at the 5-minute mark, and extended the lead to 15-8 on his second basket from behind the arc.
Sullinger had a difficult time navigating inside in the early-going against Minnesota’s front-court of Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe. He was just 8-of-20 from the floor and 2-of-8 from the free throw line, but the Gophers had no answer for Ohio State’s perimeter players.
After struggling offensively in the past few games, Lighty caught fire in the first half Sunday. Whether it was knocking down shots from the outside or getting to the basket, Lighty completely took over the game.
Ohio State used a 10-0 run to take a 28-16 lead with eight and a half minutes to play in the first half. The Gophers cut their lead to six just before the half, but Buford threaded a perfect bounce pass to Deshaun Thomas for the reverse layup to extend the lead back to eight.
The Buckeyes took a 38-30 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. They got a huge spark from senior Dallas Lauderdale to start the second half. The 6-foot-8 center from Solon has started every game for the Buckeyes this season, but often spends most or all of the second half on the bench.
He did his damage early, scoring 8 of Ohio State’s first 10 points in second half, as they took an 11-point lead with under 16 minutes to go. Lauderdale finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks. All five OSU starters scored in double-figures.
Lighty scored inside on a drive and completed the three-point play to give Ohio State its largest lead of the day at 77-58. They closed out from there by out-scoring Minnesota 44-39 in the second half.
The Buckeyes were led by Lighty, who finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Sullinger added 18 points and Buford 15, while Diebler finished with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting behind the arc.
Blake Hoffarber led the Gophers with 16 points, while both Sampson and Chip Armelin tallied 14 points apiece in the loss.
With the win, Ohio State now has a 3.5-game lead over Purdue and Wisconsin with just seven games to play. Four of those games will be in Columbus, but the Buckeyes travel to Madison next weekend for a decisive showdown with the 18th-ranked Badgers.
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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