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Diebler reaps benefits of off-season work

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Senior Jon Diebler tied an Ohio State record with nine 3-point field goals against the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles on Wednesday.

“It’s just one of those nights, I guess,” Diebler said. “It just feels like you can throw the ball in the ocean and it’s going to go in.”

The nine baskets from behind the arc match Jay Burson’s effort against Florida in December 1988 at Madison Square Garden.

Diebler finished with a career-high 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting. All of the senior guard’s 14 shots were from 3-point range, tying his own OSU record for 3-point attempts set in 2007 against North Carolina and again last season against Illinois. Diebler connected on his only two foul shots.

He deferred much of the praise to his teammates.

“Tonight we did a good job of moving the ball, and these guys did a great job of getting me the ball in open areas, and all I had to do was make shots,” Diebler said. “They did a great job of drawing double-teams.”

The open space came largely from the Eagles’ zone defense and focus on double-teaming OSU’s post players.

“We focused on trying to keep that ball out of the paint. … You realize you are giving up something, and Diebler tonight was the guy that benefitted from that,” said FGCU coach Dave Blaza.

Junior William Buford attributed his teammate’s historic night to the Buckeyes’ willingness to take what the defense gave them.

“We really go with what’s hot, and Jon had a hot hand tonight,” he said. “He’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the country, so he was feeling good and they were leaving him open.”

Despite being left open, Diebler did not get off to a fast start, missing his first two attempts.

“Coach (Thad Matta) told me I wasn’t ready to shoot, and just to get ready, get your feet set, and I did and they just started falling for me,” Diebler said.

Matta’s message might have been simpler than that.

“Obviously I told him the standard company line of, ‘Keep shooting,'” he said.

Diebler kept shooting and kept converting. After misfiring early, the senior hit nine 3-pointers in a row, matching the record with 6:15 left in the game.

Teammates were aware that Diebler was approaching history.

“When I found out he was trying to get the record, I was going to try to get him the ball,” Buford said.

After tying Burson’s mark, Diebler had chances to take sole possession of the record but couldn’t connect on any of his final three attempts.

With the game well in hand, Matta gave the guard one final shot.

“Coach told me I had one more chance and he was going to take me out,” Diebler said. “I told them I’m sorry I couldn’t get it.”

Diebler received a standing ovation as he left the court with 1:52 remaining.

Though tying the OSU record might have been the most prestigious mark set during the game, it was not the only one.

Diebler set a Schottenstien Center record for threes in a game, passing the previous mark of seven. He also reached 291 3-pointers made in his career, good for seventh place all-time in the Big Ten.

“He probably shot 90,000 in the off-season to make those nine,” Matta said. “To see him shoot the ball like this is, in my opinion, rewarding for him because the work is paying off.”

Though proud of the accomplishment, Diebler said there is little time for reflection.

“I guess we celebrate it when we get home for about a night, and that’s about it,” Diebler said. “It’s something that I will think about probably when I get older.”

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