Lighty scores 15 as Ohio State romps to 80-63 win
CLEVELAND (AP)—Freshman Jon Diebler made five 3-pointers in the second half and David Lighty scored 15 points in his homecoming to power Ohio State to an 80-63 win over Cleveland State on Tuesday night.
Diebler finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and fellow freshman Kosta Koufos added 16 points and five blocks for the Buckeyes (7-3), whose size and quickness seemed to intimidate the Vikings.
Lighty, a sophomore forward who attended Cleveland’s Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, and Hunter are two of the few holdovers coach Thad Matta can count on from last season’s squad which lost to Florida in the NCAA championship.
While this season in Columbus is devoted to rebuilding, there seems to be a bright future for the Buckeyes with Koufos, Diebler and freshman Evan Turner, who had 11 points, leading the way.
Ohio State, which lost Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook to the NBA from last year’s team, will host Florida on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s title game.
J’Nathan Bullock led Cleveland State (6-4) with 16 points.
Up by 10 points at halftime, the Buckeyes scored on eight of their first nine possessions in the second half to open a 53-31 lead on Lighty’s layup with 14:43 remaining.
Ohio State went up by 23 and put it on cruise control a little too early. The Buckeyes got careless on offense and lazy on defense, letting Cleveland State rip off 10 points in a row to cut it to 63-49.
However, Diebler, the most prolific scorer in Ohio high school history, knocked down consecutive 3s to give Ohio State a 69-51 lead.
It was the Buckeyes’ first visit to Cleveland since 1994, when they lost for the only time in seven meetings against the Horizon League’s Vikings.
In his second season, Cleveland State coach Gary Waters is attempting to rebuild a program which went just 10-21 last season and hasn’t posted a winning record since 2000-01 when the Vikings went 19-13 under Rollie Massimino.
Jamar Butler’s NBA-range 3-pointer in the first minute got Ohio State started as the Buckeyes drained four 3s in the opening six minutes and bolted to a 17-3 lead. Cleveland State’s guards struggled bringing the ball up against Ohio State’s full-court zone press.
Lighty scored 11 points and Turner 9 in the opening 20 minutes as the Buckeyes built a 35-25 halftime lead.
The matchup was the first annual John McClendon Scholarship Classic, a game honoring former Cleveland State coach John McClendon, who in 1966 became the first black coach at a predominantly white school.