The Buckeyes started strong and finished stronger exterminating the Gophers 76-60 in front of 19,049 at the Schott and another couple hundred watching on the Big Ten Network.
Looking hungry for Gopher stew, OSU jumped out to a 19-3 lead in the first 10 minutes with hot shooting (4/7 3FG) and a swarming defense that forced Minnesota into 5 turnovers and 1/15 from the floor. Tubby's crew would eventually settle in cutting the lead to 35-25 at the break.
The second half saw an increase in intensity and physical play which seemed to favor the Gophers as they used a 16-6 run to pull to 44-41 with 13 minutes left before the Buckeyes gathered themselves for the knockout blow.
Jamar Butler got it started with a short jumper from the left side before tossing a perfect lob to the High Flying Caucasian, aka Matt Terwilliger, pushing the lead to 48-42 with with 10 minutes remaining.
On the ensuing Buckeye possession, Jon Diebler missed a three (I should copyright those 5 words) but Minnesota's Travis Busch was whistled for traveling as he fell along the baseline attempting to secure the rebound from Terwilliger. Tubby proceeded to go ape shit, vehemently protesting the call on the floor near midcourt, resulting in a technical foul. It was close but my Buckeye glasses saw Busch already on his way to the deck before any contact with Terwilliger making it a tough call, but the correct one. Additionally, I'm not sure Tubby had the best view across the sideline 70 feet away.
Regardless, Butler promptly buried both technical foul shots before the Buckeyes went on a dunking binge capped by two highlight reel efforts. First, Evan Turner made a sick behind the back pass to Jon Diebler (saving the ball from going out of bounds) for a two handed flush before Diebler returned the favor with a steal and feed to Turner for a dunk giving OSU a decisive 54-42 edge with 9 minutes to go.
The Tubby-fueled 10-1 proved to be the fatal blow as Minnesota failed to cut the lead to less than 7 scoring just 4 points over the final 4 minutes.
Butler was at his All-Conference best finishing with 27 points, 9 assists and 3 steals while Evan Turner continues to blossom into the league's 2nd best freshman. The smooth stat stuffer from Chitown went for 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 dimes against just 2 turnovers giving him just 6 turnovers in his last 108 minutes (3 games). The Buckeyes also received 15 points, 8 boards and 3 swats from Kosta Koufos.
On the darker side of the news, David Lighty followed up back to back strong performances with a 5 point, 6 turnover stinkfest while Jon Diebler continued his struggles from the perimeter going 0/2 from deep making him 1 for his last 21 triple tries. Yikes.
What's even more frustrating is the story that Deebs hit 87/100 triples in a Thursday practice drill, including 29 in a row but he continues to look like a deer in headlights on the main stage. One has to wonder how much longer it's going to take for the games to slow down for him?
Check out From The Barn for an excellent recap from the Gopher perspective. My version's admittedly a little rough after I accidentally deleted my original last night in a drunken stupor. You know how we do it.