Buckeyes Survive Challenge, Defeat Seminoles to Stay Unbeaten
By Brandon Castel
They don’t face many tough opponents during this season’s non-conference schedule, so it’s important for the second-ranked Buckeyes to take care of the challenges they do face.
Ohio State (6-0) did that for the second time Tuesday night, as they outlasted a late run by Florida State (5-2) in a 58-44 win over the Seminoles.
Senior Jon Diebler led the Buckeyes with 12 points while freshman Jared Sullinger notched his third-career double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“He loves to win and he knows how to win,” Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta said.
“For him to go 36 minutes, I mean it was hotter than a beach in that gym tonight and I was really, really pleased with how he kept competing.”
Ohio State led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but had to overcome a poor all-around shooting night along with an injury to freshman Deshaun Thomas to pick up their second victory in the Sunshine State.
They knocked off then-No. 9 Florida in Gainesville two weeks back, but this victory came in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and tied the two conferences at two wins apiece.
The Buckeyes got out to a 7-0 start, but shot only 37 percent in the first half and 32 percent for the game. They also went 4-of-20 behind the arc with 15 turnovers as their potent offensive attack seemed to slow to a crawl against the long, athletic Seminoles.
With top offensive threat William Buford saddled with foul trouble, Thomas gave them a spark off the bench with four points and five rebounds in the first half. He played only eight minutes, however, after landed awkwardly on his back.
He did not return to the game, but coach Matta said during postgame that it was a coach’s decision to keep Thomas out in the second half and that he will be fine.
After shooting an equally horrific 26 percent in the first half, the Seminoles trailed 28-17 at the break thanks in large part to a 25-14 edge for Ohio State on the glass.
“I hate to say it, but they outmuscled us,” Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton said.
“We gave them too many extra possessions.”
They were outrebounded 42-33 for the game, and 17-7 on the offensive glass, but with the help of freshman Ian Miller, Florida State started heating up on the offensive end in the second half. They shot 44 percent from the floor and pulled to within seven points at 49-42 on a Deividas Dulkys 3-pointer with 4:30 left.
“We've been on the road in difficult situations before,” said senior David Lighty, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I think it's us not being rattled and just being ready for everything that comes at us.”
OSU freshman Aaron Craft came up with a big steal and knocked down a clutch three from the corner for his only basket of the night. Craft also finished with four of Ohio State’s 15 turnovers, but the Buckeyes used their man-to-man defense to force the Seminoles into 22 turnovers, including 11 steals by the Buckeyes.
Chris Singleton, Florida State’s leading scorer and rebounder, had another tough night shooting the ball against a ranked opponent. After going 2-of-12 from the floor in a 55-51 loss to Florida, Singleton was just 2-of-9 against the Buckeyes for eight points. He did have seven rebounds and five steals, but also turned the ball over three times.
He was outplayed for much of the night Sullinger, who grabbed six rebounds on the offensive end to go with seven on defense.
“I pride myself on the rebounding,” said Sullinger, who was coming off a 3-rebound performance against Miami (Ohio).
“If I'm not rebounding, I'm really not effective.”
No one was really all that effective in this game. The two teams combined to miss 71 of their 107 shot attempts, including 30-of-37 behind the arc. The Buckeyes did make 16 of their 21 free throw attempts, including 3-of-4 from center Dallas Lauderdale, who finished with seven points and five rebounds.
The Buckeyes are now 6-0 all-time against Florida State, with back-to-back victories in the 2009-10 Big Ten/ACC Challenges. They will have nine days off now before returning the court against IUPUI on Dec. 9 in Columbus (7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network).
Season Stats Year to Date
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