Despite a sluggish start, the No. 3 Ohio State men’s basketball team topped in-state foe Miami 66-45 Friday behind a strong second half from senior David Lighty.
The scoring did not come quickly as neither team put the ball in the basket until Redhawks guard Allen Roberts made two free throws with 16:16 remaining in the first half.
“I don’t think our offense was on high cylinders as we usually are,” said Lighty, who recorded his 100 victory as a Buckeye.
That 2-0 advantage was Miami’s only lead of the game. The Buckeyes responded with a 22-6 scoring run and took a 28-16 lead into the half.
The Redhawks mounted a 7-0 scoring run after the break to cut the OSU lead to 28-23 with 15:43 remaining. Miami benefited from two Buckeye turnovers and five offensive rebounds during that surge.
“We fought hard, but we couldn’t score,” Miami coach Charlie Cole said.
Neither could Lighty in the first half, when he connected on only one shot. After the break, during which the senior members of the OSU football team were honored, Lighty added 19 points to finish with a game-high 21.
“I was bricking everything in the first half,” he said. “You put a couple up and eventually they will go in.”
Lighty was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Coach Thad Matta said he was pleased Lighty was able to get his team going after Miami cut into the lead.
“The ball just fell in his hands and we started to run,” he said. “It started to free him up and it was big for him to get going and start scoring.”
The Buckeyes’ highly touted freshmen class made strong contributions once again. Deshaun Thomas had 15 points and Jared Sullinger added 12.
Sullinger said he was upset that he only recorded three rebounds.
“We’re not going after the ball like we should and a lot of that is my fault,” he said. “I should have more than three rebounds a game.”
With a 65-43 lead and 1:51 left in the game, Matta allowed more freshmen to contribute. Five first-year players, Thomas, Sullinger, Jordan Sibert, J.D. Weatherspoon, and Lenzelle Smith, closed out the game for the Buckeyes.
OSU plays Tuesday at Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. The game will tip at 7:30 p.m.
“Tuesday night is going to be a really great test for us on the road,” Matta said.