Ohio State soars past Cleveland State, 72-59
By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale made sure they could go home to Cleveland with their heads held high.
Lighty scored a career-high 30 points against his hometown team, leading No. 17 Ohio State past Cleveland State 72-59 on Tuesday night. Lauderdale, also a native Clevelander, added 12 points and eight rebounds.
"You know what means the (most) is when me and Dave are Christmas shopping over the next couple of days, we won't have to hear the nonsense," Lauderdale said with a grin. "If we would have taken an 'L' you know people would have been coming up to us, 'What happened against Cleveland State? What happened against Cleveland State?'"
Ohio State coach Thad Matta said he challenged the two players earlier in the day.
"I told those guys in the shootaround, I don't know how they could show their faces if they went back to Cleveland and didn't win the game," he said. "They knew a lot of those (Cleveland State) guys. I'm going to try to get (our) guys to know a lot of guys (on other teams) in our next 19 games."
Lighty, a junior picking up the slack for the injured Evan Turner, scored 22 points in the second half as the Buckeyes (10-2) pulled away in their final game before opening Big Ten play at Wisconsin on Dec. 31.
"I was just being aggressive, pretty much," he said after easily surpassing his previous top scoring game by eight points. "Attacking as much as possible, trying to get to the line. I finally made some free throws - I'm shooting like Shaq right now. But just basically trying to help my teammates get open shots and get to the basket."
Lighty hit 9 of 16 shots from the field and was 9 of 13 at the line. It was the most shots he's ever attempted from the field, most foul shots he's made and attempted.
William Buford added 12 points for the Buckeyes, who won their third in a row.
Jeremy Montgomery had a career-best 23 points for Cleveland State (4-9), which has lost eight of its last nine. Norris Cole, the Vikings' leading scorer at 17 points a game, did not score, missing all 10 of his shots from the field. He had six turnovers and one assist while being dogged by P.J. Hill in Ohio State's man-to-man defense.
Coach Gary Waters drew an instant comparison between what Lighty did and what Cole didn't.
"Right now I would consider (Lighty) their best player and when he is playing at the top of his game and your best player doesn't score a point it is impossible to win a game like that," he said.
With Ohio State leading 40-36 about 7 minutes into the second half, Lighty scored the next 10 points and 15 of the next 16 for the Buckeyes as they went ahead 56-42.
"He was tremendous all the way through," Matta said.
Cleveland State never got closer than 10 points.
"I'm happy we got the win but we're still not satisfied," said Lauderdale, who matched his career high with eight rebounds and was just off his personal best in points. "We still didn't play to our best capability at stretches. The second 4 minutes of the game, they blitzed us on a 9-0 run. We can't have that happen if we're going to compete at the level we're trying to get to."
The Vikings could not recreate the late magic from their last game, in which they rallied from a 17-point deficit against No. 6 West Virginia to tie the game late. Da'Sean Butler's layup with 1.2 seconds left gave the Mountaineers an 80-78 win.
The Buckeyes, who came into the game third in the nation in field goal percentage at 52.6, shot 48 percent from the field and hit half of their 14 3-point attempts.
The teams were even in both rebounds (31) and turnovers (16) but the Buckeyes had a clear upper hand at the line. Cleveland State, among the most foul-prone teams in Division I, sent Ohio State to the line 31 times with the Buckeyes making 23. By comparison, the Vikings were 10 of 14.
The Buckeyes have won seven of the eight meetings between the schools.
Ohio State lost Turner when he fell while dunking in a game on Dec. 5, breaking two bones in his lower back. He was leading the Buckeyes in scoring (18.5), rebounding (11.4) and assists (6.0). Doctors said he would likely be out 8 weeks, which would sideline him until mid-February, although he has said he hopes to return a month earlier than that.