A record-setting night from Jon Diebler helped cover a lackluster second half for Ohio State.
The No. 2 Buckeyes lacked the first-half intensity that helped them jump out to a 26-point halftime lead in the final stanza, but Diebler’s record-tying nine three-pointers powered the way to an 83-55 victory against visiting Florida Gulf Coast.
"I knew I missed the first two and I got ready and got my feet set and it happened for me," he said. "Everyone did a great job of getting the ball to me ... It was one of those nights where I was just feeling good. Everyone has one of those nights sometimes."
Diebler, who entered the season as the school’s all-time leader in made three-pointers with 260, established a new single-game career-high in both made treys and total points (29). His production from behind the three-point arc marked a Value City Arena record and tied the OSU record set by Jay Burson on Dec. 27, 1988 against Florida.
He was removed with 1:52 remaining and OSU ahead 78-51. Diebler had three attempts to break the record but was unable to come up with the final basket. It marked the third time Diebler had connected on at least eight treys with the most recent time coming March 19 last season against UC Santa Barbara in a first-round NCAA Tournament victory.
In addition, his nine treys were made in a row. Diebler opened the game by missing his first two three-point attempts and closed by missing his final three. When he connected on his seventh trey, Diebler moved past Indiana's A.J. Guyton (1997-2000) into seventh place all-time in made Big Ten three-pointers.
The senior was not the only Buckeye to reach a milestone during the contest, however. Although he was 8 for 18 from the field, junior guard William Buford finished with 17 points to make him the 47th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
Both Diebler and senior David Lighty have also reached that plateau.
"It's a real honor," Buford said. "You look in the record books before games and see the names. The people who reach 1,000 - those are the greats, so it's a real honor."
He is also not the first Buckeye to set a scoring record this season. In a Dec. 9 victory against IUPUI, forward Jared Sullinger scored 40 points, a school record for a freshman.
After the FGC game, head coach Thad Matta praised his team's balanced scoring approach.
"Jon may not get 29 the next game or Jared may not get 40, but who could it be?" he said. "That's what I love about coaching this team."
Said Diebler: "It's nice to know we can win with the perimeter guys scoring a lot and we can win with the inside guys scoring a lot."
The contest between the Buckeyes (9-0) and the Eagles (2-6) was never close as the home team scored the first seven points of the game thanks to baskets from Dallas Lauderdale and William Buford and a three-point play from David Lighty. The visitors finally got on the board with a three-pointer from Marlon Rivera at the 16:38 mark.
The lead continued to grow, but it could have been even bigger. OSU began the game 3 for 14 from the field, a streak that was broken by a three-pointer from freshman guard Aaron Craft at the 13:31 mark to make it a 10-3 lead.
The one hot streak proved to be Diebler, who connected on five first-half three-pointers. His final trey of the stanza came directly in front of FGC head coach Dave Balza and forced him to call time out with the Buckeyes ahead 35-14 with 4:02 remaining.
Not content with the 19-point lead, OSU outscored the Eagles by a 7-2 run to close the half while playing a number of reserves.
After outscoring their guests 42-16 in the first half, the Buckeyes surrendered 39 second-half points while putting up 41 of their own. The Eagles outscored OSU 13-10 in the first seven minutes of the half and started off hitting 7 of their first 11 shots (63.6 percent) of the stanza. For the game, they went 20 for 46 (43.5 percent).
"We strive for 40 minutes of solid basketball every game," Matta said. "We've been able to creep towards 30 or so minutes of solid play, but we've gone on some streaks where we didn't play so well. Sometimes you need a hard lesson to realize that you have to play 40 minutes of good basketball every game. Tonight there were some letdowns where the guys didn't react quickly enough and they managed to find a guy wide open."
Sullinger was limited to nine minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Craft scored eight points, handed out seven assists and committed just one turnover.
In all, the Buckeyes assisted on 23 of their 32 field goals while the Eagles finished with 22 turnovers.
FGC is in its fourth year of reclassification as a Division I team and its ninth year overall of basketball. The Eagles were led by guard Chase Fieler’s 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
The Buckeyes will return to action Saturday with a 2 p.m. home contest against South Carolina.