Next up: OSU shooting lights-out

The Gophers defense will have to be on task Saturday against a hot-shooting Ohio State team.

Shooting better than 50 percent against mediocre teams like Michigan and Indiana is impressive enough. Doing it against a team of defensive specialists like Purdue? Hardly possible.

Only the Buckeyes did it again, winning an overtime game against a Boilermakers team playing for a share of first place in the league. Now they head into Saturday's game against Minnesota shooting a whopping 60 percent over their last three games.

The Bucks have made 86 of 143 shots in victories against Michigan, Indiana and Purdue. They shot 60 percent (32 of 53) against the Boilermakers, who entered holding opponents to 36 percent from the field.

The hot streak is coming just in time. The Buckeyes were frustrated by the Gophers during their first meeting on Jan. 3 in Williams Arena, when the Gophers' multiple defensive sets frustrated Ohio State into shooting 35 percent.

Since then, sophomore Evan Turner has continued to progress and freshman William Buford has grown up. Against the Boilermakers, they combined for 48 points on 19 of 29 shooting.

"Those guys are fantastic," Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

OHIO STATE 80, PURDUE 72 (OT): Evan Turner scored 26 points, William Buford added 22 and the Buckeyes won their biggest game of the conference season by outscoring Purdue, 16-8 in the overtime session.

The Buckeyes shot better than 60 percent from the field and took advantage of a Purdue team forced to play without Robbie Hummel, its best player who is out with a stress fracture in his back.

NOTES

  • The initial prognosis for David Lighty's broken right foot was six-to-10 weeks. It has now been six weeks, and Lighty isn't ready to play. Not even close.

    Lighty had his broken right foot X-rayed again late last week, but no further update was given. That's not good news for a team in desperate need of its leader. Without Lighty's defensive presence, for example, the Buckeyes surrendered 81 points to Indiana on Jan. 31. They won the game by hitting 76 percent of their shots and scoring 93, but it's difficult to believe IU freshman Matt Roth would have connected on nine of 11 3-pointers had Lighty been in his face.

    Lighty could return to practice by mid-February, coach Thad Matta said, but it was strictly conjecture at this point. Truth is, no one really knows for certain.

    "One of the biggest keys is when you start with the first step, how does it respond?" Matta said. "Is there soreness? Is there swelling? We are a long way away."

    Should Lighty meet Matta's loose projection, he may be able to return to the lineup in a limited role at Northwestern on Feb. 18. Realistically, Lighty would probably get about five regular-season games in a best-case scenario, before the start of the Big Ten Tournament.

    Worst-case scenario would be the tournament as his return to the court. With so few games he could conceivably play in, Matta didn't rule out the possibility of Lighty taking a medical redshirt and preserving a year of eligibility. How the Buckeyes fare over the next two weeks will likely weigh largely in that discussion.

    "We haven't spoken about (redshirting), but it is something at that point you've got to look at," Matta said. "The big thing with David is how much can he do? Would it be fair to David to say ‘It's going to take you three weeks to get back?' I don't care who he is, he's not going to be in the type of shape he needs to be in to play. Is it a situation where he can only play in games, he can't practice? But he needs practice? There's so many things we've got to look at."

  • The 93 points scored against Indiana are the most since the 2006-07 team opened the season with a 107-69 victory against VMI. It's the most points Ohio State has scored in a conference game since winning at Michigan, 94-85, on Feb. 9, 2006.

  • Thad Matta has won exactly twice as many games as he has lost in the Big Ten. Matta enters the game against Purdue with a 50-25 career mark in the league.

  • Evan Turner is red hot and enjoying his best stretch of the season. Turner is averaging 26.3 points and 9.0 rebounds over his last three games. He has shot 65.7 percent over that span.

  • Like Evan Turner, freshman William Buford is playing his best basketball of the season. It took him 20 games to score 20 points, which he did on Jan. 31 against Indiana (24 points). He followed that up with 22 points against Purdue and is 18 of 26 from the field over his last two games.

  • Freshman B.J. Mullens responded nicely from his lousy game against the Hoosiers. Mullens was eight of nine from the field, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds after going scoreless against Indiana on Jan. 31. The eight rebounds are one shy of his career high.

    PLAYER ROTATION: Usual starters — G Jon Diebler, G Jeremie Simmons, G William Buford, F Evan Turner, F Dallas Lauderdale. Key subs — C B.J. Mullens, G P.J. Hill, Kyle Madsen.

    IN FOCUS: Ohio State heads into the game against Minnesota shooting a whopping 60 percent over their last three games. The Buckeyes have made 86 of 143 shots in victories against Michigan, Indiana and Purdue. They shot 60 percent (32 of 53) against the Boilermakers, who entered holding opponents to 36 percent from the field.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're a long way away." — Coach Thad Matta, on a timetable for the return of David Lighty.


    GAME REVIEW:
    Michigan State 78, Ohio State 67
    Ohio State 72, Michigan 54
    Ohio State 93, Indiana 81
    Ohio State 80, Purdue 72 (OT)

    GAME PREVIEW:
    at Minnesota, Saturday, Feb. 7
    at Wisconsin, Saturday, Feb. 14


  • Gopher Illustrated Top Stories