A sluggish Ohio State men’s basketball team needed both halves to put away visiting Lipscomb, but five players in double digits helped the Buckeyes pull out an 84-64 victory.
Leading the way were juniors Evan Turner and David Lighty, who contributed a triple-double and a career-high in scoring, respectively.
Although Turner recorded his second triple-double of the season and the third recorded in OSU history, it was Lighty who did most of the heavy lifting for the Buckeyes (4-1). He finished with a career-high 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting keyed by a 3-for-3 performance from beyond the arc and added seven rebounds and three steals, providing the offense while the game was still in question.
“I was just trying to use my quickness and strength on the slower defender and attack,” Lighty said. “My shot was falling tonight so that gave me the opportunity to head fake and get to the basket.”
In addition, Lighty was battling a cold that had his status for the game in question leading up to the game.
Turner sealed the deal when he grabbed his 10th rebound with 1:13 remaining on the clock. With the crowd roaring its approval, he added two points at the other end on a drive to the basket to close his night with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 boards. When he came down with the final rebound, the announced crowd of 11,555 rose to its feet and cheered.
During the team’s opener Nov. 9 against Alcorn State, Turner was all over the court with 17 rebounds, 14 points and 10 assists. This one felt different, he said.
“Right now I’m dead tired so it was different,” he said. “That game we won by 40. This was a close game. I just think it was a great team contribution tonight.”
Asked if it was the quietest triple-double he had ever seen, OSU head coach Thad Matta said, “You saw it tonight, the definition right there. I had no idea where he was. He’s a great player and I thought he really did some things down the stretch to help us.”
Five Buckeyes finished in double figures. Diebler had 17 on 5 of 11 shooting from three-point range, while Lauderdale had a career-high 13 points and reserve senior guard Jeremie Simmons added 11. Lipscomb (0-4) was led by center Adnan Hodzic, who had 18 points and made life difficult for Lauderdale throughout the contest.
The Buckeyes led 36-27 at the half but seized control in the opening minutes of the second half. Turner stole the ball on Lipscomb’s opening possession and pushed it the length of the court for a dunk, sparking a 9-3 run that pushed it to 45-30 Buckeyes.
Lipscomb would not go away, cutting the lead back to seven at 47-40 with 13:43 remaining thanks to a 10-2 run, but the Bisons could not get any closer from there.
“I was nervous going into this game because I told our guys this is the best 0-3 team that I’ve seen,” OSU head coach Thad Matta said. “They do a great job of spreading the floor, moving and cutting and they have guys who know how to play.”
With the score 47-39 in favor of the Buckeyes, Lighty drove the lane and skied for a one-handed dunk that proved to be the watershed moment of the game.
It was a rough first half for Turner. The junior accumulated five turnovers and did not get on the scoreboard until 1:35 remained in the half when he drove the lane and laid one in left-handed, drawing a foul. He then missed the subsequent free-throw attempt. In addition, he was whistled for goaltending twice to go along with one first-half block.
“He’s obviously a very, very good player,” Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson said. “That’s what good players do when they don’t play particularly well in the first half – they take it to another level in the second half.”
The Buckeyes held put together a 10-0 run to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 14-6 lead with 12:52 left that was keyed by back-to-back three-pointers from Diebler and Lighty, the latter of which closed off the run and forced the Bisons to call a timeout.
The visitors would not fold, however, even after the Buckeyes pushed their lead to 10 points at 24-14 with 6:44 remaining. From there, Lipscomb put together a 9-0 run aided by a goaltending call on Turner to make it 24-23 with 5:05 left. OSU’s Dallas Lauderdale hit a free throw with 4:30 remaining to make it 25-23, and it would stay there for more than two minutes until a free throw from Lipscomb’s Josh Slater made it 25-24.
The teams traded threes until Turner’s first basket of the game sparked an 8-0 OSU run to close the half. The Buckeyes got the last shot and found Diebler open from deep on the left wing, and he buried it with about seven seconds remaining to set the score at 36-27.
Looking back, Lauderdale said the Buckeyes did not start fighting back until the second half for reasons he did not understand.
“Our minds weren’t right,” he said. “That’s what coach was saying in the locker room. That’s our fault. We’re the only people who can get us ready to play the game. We just have to learn from this and move forward.”