Confident Buckeyes Defeat Visiting Falcons

A young Ohio State team struggled throughout the game but found a way to win against visiting Bowling Green on Monday night. Sophomore Jon Diebler led the way with 17 points, as the Buckeyes improved to 2-0 on the young season.

The Ohio State men's basketball team had been warned.

The date was Sept. 6, and the school's football team faced a 7-6 deficit to visiting Ohio University at halftime. Looking ahead a few months, head Thad Matta sent a message to his charges.

"I texted our guys at halftime of the OU-Ohio State football game and said, ‘Hey on November 24th we'd better be ready to go," Matta said, referring to the team's game with Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green.

Those words proved to be prophetic, as the Buckeyes had to withstand two late charges by the visiting Falcons en route to a 61-57 victory.

It was a win that moved OSU to 2-0, but it was not pretty. The Buckeyes had 15 turnovers, were out-rebounded 39-34 and often struggled to communicate with each other on the court.

But despite all their problems, it was a victory for the Buckeyes – and one the team's players said afterwards they had no doubts they would earn.

"We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we had full confidence because we practice so hard," sophomore guard Evan Turner said. "When you practice as hard as we do, you build confidence. You guys might have been nervous, but I don't think we were."

The Falcons tied the game at 46-all with 6:48 remaining, capping a 19-6 run that erased a game-high 13-point lead for the Buckeyes. BGSU (3-2) would inch ahead with 5:20 remaining on a pair of free-throws from guard Darryl Clements that made it 50-49 in favor of the visitors, and a young OSU team found itself needing to stage a rally.

It didn't waste long, as sophomore center Dallas Lauderdale took a pass near the right elbow, spun into the lane and threw down a one-handed dunk, drawing a foul in the process. He converted the three-point play and the Buckeyes held a 52-50 lead with 5:01 remaining.

The basket was the start of an 8-0 run capped by a put-back by junior forward David Lighty that proved to be too much of a deficit for the Falcons to overcome.

They still had a chance, however. Narrowing the deficit to three points with less than a minute to play, the Falcons pushed the ball up the court following a missed three-pointer by Turner. Guard Joe Jakubowski, who had hit on 1 of 2 three-point attempts already, found himself all alone at the top of the circle, but his game-tying attempt rimmed out with 32 seconds left.

Turner and Lighty each added pairs of free-throws to seal the game for the Buckeyes. Lighty's pair with 6.4 seconds remaining set the final score and came after he had missed his first three attempts from the charity stripe.

"I missed the first three, so I had to make some," he said. "I just made them at the right time. We needed them."

The Buckeyes were led by sophomore guard Jon Diebler, who had 17 points. Turner added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Lauderdale had eight points, seven rebounds and six blocks. Freshman guard William Buford came off the bench to add nine points for OSU.

Turner suffered a bloody nose early in the second half after being hit in the face by Lighty. The injury forced him to switch jerseys, and he played the rest of the game wearing No. 25.

The incident occurred after Turner – who had a game-high five turnovers – committed two in the first minute of the second half. After the game, Turner said it was the first nosebleed he had ever experienced and described it as "gross and cool at the same time."

Matta had a different view on the situation.

"I told Evan that's what happens when you turn the ball over two straight times: you get a bloody nose," he said.

BGSU head coach Louis Orr pointed to Lauderdale's performance in the paint as being particularly key for the OSU victory.

"He gets off the ground so quick that you can release the ball and he can come out of nowhere or he can block the shot after you shoot it," Orr said. "He's got a gift at that. If he gets half of those blocks and we score three more buckets, that's the difference in the game."

The Falcons were led by guard Brian Moten's 16 points, while Clements added 13.

The Buckeyes held a 30-24 lead at the half, but it could have been more. OSU had the ball for the final possession of the half with the goal of taking the final shot. With Jeremie Simmons running the point, OSU was unable to get any semblance of offense going and had to settle for a rushed three-point attempt by Diebler that rimmed out.

"I think this was a great game for us," Matta said. "I think that that's a team that is going to challenge for the MAC championship. You don't want to play against them. That is a very good basketball team and obviously proved to be a good test for us. You hope later in the season we look at this and say, ‘Hey, that was a great win.' "

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