Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor
When Jon Diebler arrived on campus in 2007, he was joining an Ohio State men’s basketball squad that had been in the National Championship the year before.
At the time, the basketball program’s recent success left the incoming freshman with a chip on his shoulder.
“We expected things to just be given to us,” Diebler said. “I mean, we worked extremely hard, but we didn’t do what we had to do to win enough games and get into the tournament.”
That year, the Buckeyes went 24-13 and missed out on the NCAA Tournament, settling for a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
“But along with that, freshman year I think we all learned from it, from going to the NIT. It gave us a whole different perspective on things,” Diebler said. “We’ve come a long ways and I know we couldn’t be happier to go out with this team. We’ve got a pretty good team right now.”
Three years later, the Buckeyes are the Big Ten champions, and the catalyst for their last two wins has been Diebler. After shooting a record-breaking 10-for-12 from beyond the arc against Penn State on Tuesday, Diebler again led the team in scoring after shooting 7-of-8 from 3-point territory in Sunday’s 93-65 win against Wisconsin.
“We needed to pressure the strong hands, and we needed to get up a little, especially on Diebler,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “When you hit 10, I thought we did a great job of holding him to seven.”
Diebler, who participated in the Senior Night festivities before the start of the game, finished with 27 points, six rebounds and four assists.
After the game, Diebler was having trouble figuring out why he’s been shooting so well lately.
“I’ve just been getting a little bit of daylight, and (my teammates) are doing a great job of screening for me and getting me the ball,” he said. “I’m just fortunate enough to knock them down. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
Diebler has now gone 17-for-20 from deep over the last two games, an 85 percent shooting display. Some basketball players are lucky to be that automatic from the free-throw line, much less from the 3-point line.
“It’s an amazing run for him, and I told the team after the game that we were 14-of-15 from three and Jon apologized to everybody for missing,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “All of the shots that he shoots, and all of the practice that he does, you know it’s very gratifying to see him shoot like that.”
OSU set an NCAA record for 3-point shooting percentage in a single game with 93.3 percent accuracy from deep.
“That’s, what, the first time in six or seven games that we’ve had the same guy lead us in scoring twice?” Matta said. “And I know this: Jon will score zero points for us; as long as we win, he’s fine with that.”