Buckeyes Survive Gophers

By Chris Lauderback on January 9, 2011 at 4:34p

In a closer than expected outcome, Ohio State blew a 15 point 2nd half lead before finally outlasting Minnesota thanks to a final defensive stand that saw William Buford contest a desperation triple try from Austin Hollins to preserve a 67-64 Buckeye victory this afternoon in Value City Arena.

David Lighty paced the Buckeyes with 19 points (13 in 1st half) and captured his 111th career win, an Ohio State record. Jared Sullinger offered up another dub-dub with 18 points and 12 boards while Aaron Craft had a strong showing against seasoned Al Nolen with 11 points and seven dimes in 34 minutes of action. 

Buford and Jon Diebler added nine apiece with neither finding the range, shooting a combined 6/19 on the afternoon.

In a 2ndhalf filled with runs by both teams, it didn’t look this would be a one possession game after Ohio State answered a Gopher 7-0 run with a 12-2 blitz featuring three pointers by Craft, Diebler and two from Lighty to take a 55-37 lead with 8:35 to play.

Minnesota roared back however with a 12-1 run of their own capped by two Colton Iverson free throws cutting the deficit to 56-49 with 5:33 remaining. Sullinger emphatically ended the run, or so it seemed, with a nasty dunk in traffic making it 58-49 at the 5:12 mark but that was the last field goal the Buckeyes would convert. Rodney Williams logged a dunk of his own before Buford and Sullinger hit a pair of free throws each making it 62-51 with 3:40 left.

The Gophers countered with an 8-1 run trimming the lead to 63-59 with 1:38 on the clock off an alley oop dunk by Trevor Mbakwe, a steal and layup from Hollins, two free throws from Blake Hoffarber and a layup from Iverson.

Craft hit 3 of 4 free throws but Al Nolen answered five points of his own in between a Diebler free throw before Tubby Smith purposely fouled Dallas Lauderdale with :29 left. Twin Cities promptly missed both tries and after rebounding a Nolen miss, Lauderdale saved the ball but directly to Hollins allowing the Gophers to call a timeout and draw up a final play.

Lauderdale and Diebler harassed Hoffarber on the wing forcing Hollins to heave a triple with no chance of drawing iron as Buford applied the heat.

Outscored 45-32 in the 2ndhalf, the Buckeyes surrendered 46% from the floor in the final 20 minutes but held them to 38% overall while breaking even on the glass (34-34).

Ten turnovers in the 2nd half also helped Minnesota close the gap and the tallied 165 points off turnovers for the game. The Buckeye defense held it’s own, scoring 24 points off 15 Gopher turnovers. Uncharacteristically struggling to avoid fouls, Ohio State allowed Minnesota to take 27 free throws, including 19 in the 2nd half – Minnesotamade all 19 – to keep things close.

As expected, the game started as a physical, defensive affair with OSU holding Minnesota without a field goal for a six minute stretch helping turn a 10-10 tie into a 17-11 lead after Lighty picked Maverick Ahanmisi’s pocket and converted a pair of free throws after starting the 7-1 run with a triple off a nice look from Buford.

After Minnesota battled back to 20-18 after a Ralph Sampson Jr. jumper from the top of the key, the Buckeyes turned up the D sparking a 10-0 run. As usual, the defensive lock down was keyed by Aaron Craft who first tied up Al Nolen then helped force a shot clock violation before finding Buford on the wing for a triple and a 23-18 OSU lead. After a three second call against the Gophers, Lighty struck again with a soft jumper near the lane. Another Minny shot clock violation and a turnover off a bad pass along the baseline kept the empty Gopher possessions rolling and the Buckeyes countered with a monster dunk from Sullinger off Lighty’s miss of a driving layup to make it 27-18.

After a Colton Iverson miss in the lane, Craft drilled a trey to make it 30-18 with 2:55 left in the half before Deshaun Thomas grabbed a loose ball and converted in the lane sandwiched between another Sampson jumper from the top of the key and a Rodney Williams dunk in transition to make it 32-22 at the break.

Ohio State held Minnesota to 38% shooting in the opening 20 minutes and converted eight turnovers into 11 points while holding the long and lean Gophers to 10 points in the paint by way of winning the glass 20-16. Meanwhile, the OSU offense hit just 39% themselves including 27% from deep (3/11) as the refs let the defenses get after it.

Moving to 16-0 overall and 3-0 in conference, the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor for a 6:30pm matchup against Michigan.


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Buckeyebrowny919's picture

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Jason Priestas's picture

Not sure it's been discussed here, but he should be okay by the time fall rolls around. He's not enrolling early, so it won't hamper his spring participation at OSU.

TLB's picture

ok, who is the stat guy for this site?

I would like to know what kind of stats Diebler has against ranked teams.  I know he can score against MAC schools, but I don't have a recollection of him going off against a good team.

JakeBuckeye's picture

I'm not the "11W stat guy", but I had some interest in your question.


Freshman year (2007-2008):

#21 Syracuse: 12 points, 2-8 shooting, 7-8 FT

#15 Texas A&M: 3 points, 0-9 shooting, 3-4 FT

#2 North Carolina: 19 points, 7-16 shooting

#16 Butler: 2 points, 1-6 shooting

#11 Michigan State: 3 points, 1-6 shooting, 1-2 FT

#7 Tennessee: 0 points, 0-5 shooting

#13 Indiana: 14 points, 5-11 shooting

#10 Wisconsin: 3 points, 1-3 shooting

#12 Indiana: 3 points, 1-6 shooting

#15 Purdue: 6 points, 1-3 shooting, 3-4 FT

#18 Michigan State: 0 points, 0-3 shooting

#19 Michigan State: 0 points, 0-1 shooting


Sophomore Year (2008-2009):

#22 Miami FL: 20 points, 6-15 shooting, 2-3 FT

#7 Notre Dame: 2 points, 1-7 shooting

#21 Minnesota: 15 points, 5-13 shooting

#12 Michigan State: 7 points, 2-8 shooting, 2-2 FT

#24 Michigan: 3 points, 1-4 shooting

#24 Illinois: 6 points, 2-5 shooting

#7 Michigan State: 12 points, 3-6 shooting, 3-3 FT

#13 Purdue: 10 points, 3-6 shooting, 2-2 FT

#19 Minnesota: 11 points, 4-11 shooting

#16 Illinois: 17 points, 5-11 shooting, 3-3 FT

#16 Purdue: 6 points, 2-12 shooting

#6 Michigan State: 17 points, 5-11 shooting, 2-2 FT

#24 Purdue: 15 points, 5-12 shooting


Junior Year (2009-2010):

#4 North Carolina: 17 points, 4-13 shooting, 6-6 FT

#12 California: 14 points, 3-7 shooting, 5-6 FT

#20 Butler: 7 points, 2-7 shooting, 2-2 FT

#6 Purdue: 6 points, 2-4 shooting, 1-2 FT

#16 Wisconsin: 8 points, 2-5 shooting, 3-3 FT

#12 West Virginia: 11 points, 3-7 shooting, 2-2 FT

#4 Purdue: 10 points, 3-7 shooting, 2-3 FT

#11 Michigan State: 12 points, 4-10 shooting


Senior Year (2010-2011):

#10 Florida: 14 points, 5-8 shooting

#21 Minnesota: 9 points, 3-8 shooting, 1-3 FT


2007-2008 NIT Tournament:

North Carolina-Asheville: 8 points, 3-5 shooting

California: 4 points, 0-5 shooting, 4-4 FT

Dayton: 10 points, 3-5 shooting, 2-2 FT

Mississippi: 0 points, 0-3 shooting

Massachusetts: 0 points, 0-1 shooting


2008-2009 NCAA Tournament:

Siena: 6 points, 2-12 shooting


2009-2010 NCAA Tournament:

UC Santa Barbara: 23 points, 8-14 shooting

Georgia Tech: 20 points, 6-12 shooting, 4-4 FT

Tennessee: 3 points, 1-8 shooting


*All rankings are whatever ESPN lists as its default rankings

*All rankings are set to what the team was ranked at the time Ohio State played them

gravey's picture

Looks like Diebs gets a little tight in the big games.  That's really the essence of basketball though; Who can knock 'em down when the pressure is on?

yrro's picture

I think Diebs has always had trouble shooting with a hand in his face. Teams that play good perimter defense give him fits.

That and he's a little naturally streaky, and 3 pointers are in general streaky to begin with. He doesn't really shoot anything else.

He really seemed to have an issue playing in the larger venues in the tournament. Some of the misses there *bad*.

TLB's picture

Thanks.  This is about what I was expecting but wanted a little confirmation.

I think he is going to have to improve for us to win it all.

gravey's picture

I get the feeling that these Buckeyes aren't quite as good as I thought they were.  Apparently our preseason schedule was even worse than I thought.  The physicality of the Gophers (and the peculiar officiating) got them off their game and their talent wasn't really helping them weather the comeback very well.  Do they have a killer instinct?  We had 'em down by 15 or so and after a lot of sloppy play, and missed defensive assignments, the Gophers were back in it.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I see its tied at 38..can't believe it's not on my tv!

chaoscrusader's picture


The officiating sucked and it was inconsistent at best. The Bucks were being hammered on touch fouls and then Minnesota would be similarly aggressive and nothing was being called. With Lighty removed because of foul trouble, Bucks became passive with about 8-minutes left in the game. What was weird, with less than two minutes left, the refs start hammering Minnesota with lame calls almost as trying to balance out some of the horrible fouls called on the Bucks. The refs made themselves a very large component of that game. The thing is with Lighty out; somebody has to do a better job at stepping up. Minnesota def focused on two people Diebler and Sully, one of the other three has to hit tough shots. The game was a learning event for the freshman. I am more disappointed in Buford, he has the skills to split the Minnesota D and dish or shoot the intermediate jump shot. 

Chris Lauderback's picture

Good points, crusader. The refs were indeed sketchy but I tried to say away from commenting on them myself because it's more difficult to see just how bad the officiating is when I'm actually at the game. OSU gives us little monitors but even with those during replays, it's hard to see just how sucky the zebras are. After watching the 2nd half at home afterward, definitely some garbage calls. Beyond officiating, I also noticed more on the replay that the Minnesota full court pressure really got Craft out of initiating the offense with the same level of success in the closing 8 minutes or so. I'm not worried about Buford, he has played very good ball lately. It would've been nice to see Diebler pick up his slack a little more but with such a physical, defensive minded opponent, I wasn't expecting it.

I'm not at all worried about this team or its freshmen. They are getting tested in the best or 2nd best conference in America where you have to be ready for 8 or 9 of the 11 teams on any given night - home or away. I thought Craft did some great things today. I like that he continues to look for his shot. He's only going to get better. Thomas pissed me off with early shot selection but I like that he really does compete. Definitely not afraid.

Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

I think you are absolutely right that this team will actually be tested in the conference, unlike our football team.  We will know exactly how good they are by the time the tourney gets going.

I am not worried as Minny is a good team, and we won a tough conference game.  This team will only get better down the stretch as they get pushed by many good teams.  If people are expecting an undefeated season, I think they are going to be disappointed. It was a win and that is all that matters.

Bobcat04's picture

I guess I'd just like for them to learn to close the deal.  Just like at Iowa, they broke open a close game to a lead in the high teens, and if they'd have shut the door defensively, it'd be over.  I know that the refs were awful, but we need to nail the coffin shut.  When they learn to do that, I'll breathe easier.   

Chris Lauderback's picture

Loved this quote from Matta yesterday about Lighty:

"One of the greatest things about David Lighty, and I'll never forget this," Matta said, "is when those guys were getting ready to sign, we had all the sanctions hanging over us. Ohio State drew up a letter that basically said that if we don't get cleared, we'll let you go to another school, which was the right thing to do. And when I called Dave to tell him, he said, 'Don't send the letter. I want to be a Buckeye.' 


Chris Lauderback's picture

LOL..just received our weekly email from the conference confirming Jared Sullinger again wins the Big Ten Freshman of the Week. That makes 8.

A little sugar on top this time as he also shares Big Ten Player of the Week (Ryne Smith - Purdue). That's his 3rd. Back to back dub-dubs will do that for you, I guess.