Buckeyes Clinch Challenge, Net Big Win

The 15th-ranked Ohio State men's basketball team clinched the league's first-ever win in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Wednesday night, but the Buckeyes were most excited about their own triumph over No. 21 Florida State. Evan Turner and Jon Diebler led the way as the Buckeyes never trailed while earning a 77-64 victory.

With nine minutes to play Wednesday night, Jeremie Simmons took a three-pointer that rattled in, out and back into the basket to give the Ohio State men's basketball team a 20-point lead on visiting Florida State.

Yes, it was that kind of night for the 15th-ranked Buckeyes – and the Big Ten.

Ohio State polished off No. 21 Florida State, 77-64, to improve to 6-1 and clinch the Big Ten-ACC Challenge for its conference for the first time in the event's 11 years.

"That's the championship right there, so that was huge," OSU star Evan Turner said with a bit of a grin.

With Ohio State's lead well in hand late in the contest, the announcement in Value City Arena that the challenge was tied at 5 pending the result set off one of the loudest roars of the night.

‘It was a big win," junior Jon Diebler said. "They're a very good basketball team. We're very excited because we know we beat a good team."

The twin wrecking crew of Turner and Diebler led Ohio State, the former netting 25 to go with 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and the latter adding 22 points. Coming off the bench to play 13 second-half minutes in place of struggling William Buford, Simmons added 14, all in the latter stanza.

Ohio State never trailed in the game, opening up a 9-2 lead in the opening four minutes and never letting the Seminoles (6-2) get within more than two points the rest of the way.

Diebler paced the Buckeyes in the first half, making 5 of 8 threes as the Buckeyes opened a 31-20 lead at the break, keeping Florida State to 29.6 percent (8 of 27) from the floor.

"I thought our defense especially in the fist half was really effective for what we needed to get done," OSU head coach Thad Matta said.

The second half was no better for the Seminoles, who were playing their sixth game in 12 days away from Tallahassee. The Buckeyes kept their 11-point lead until the under-12 media timeout, then went on an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 54-32.

Reserve Kyle Madsen ended the run with a putback tip-in and Turner had a nice basket and foul, but the real star was Simmons, who put in a pair of three-pointers including the one that used the hometown roll.

"That was key," Turner said of Simmons. "He hit some big, big shots with people in his face. It gave us that extra boost. It was amazing to watch what he was doing."

Florida State would never cut the lead to single digits again as Ohio State finished the half shooting 14 of 24 (58.3 percent) from the field.

The Seminoles, meanwhile, had trouble getting on the mark, especially from three-point land. Florida State missed its first eight threes and ended up 2 for 11 from beyond the arc.

Touted All-America candidate Solomon Alabi, a center, finished with 21 points and 10 boards, but leading scorer Chris Singleton had only eight points before the forward fouled out with more than six minutes to play.

Ohio State's big guns of Turner and Diebler, on the other hand, were tough to stop. Diebler was the only shooter on his game early – the teams' combined shooting percentage was 14 of 52 (26.9 percent) in the first half with his 5-for-9 overall mark tossed out – on the way to his fifth career game with six made treys. He finished 6 of 12 from behind the line, upping his total during the last four games to 19 of 37.

"I think it was just guys like Evan and Dave (Lighty, who had four assists) really getting into the paint sucking in defenders," Diebler said. "A lot of those shots, we were wide open. When you have guys that can create like Evan and Dave, it really helps a lot."

Turner, meanwhile, was his usual self. His 13 rebounds left him two short of 500 for his career one game after he topped the 1,000-point mark in Scarlet and Gray. Turner, who had 15 second-half points, ended up 10 of 17 from the floor with six steals, two helpers and two steals for the game.

Notes: Ohio State moved to 4-0 all-time against FSU, 5-0 if a November 2000 win, since vacated by sanctions, is included. … Buford finished 1 of 12 from the field and scored five points, the second time in three games he made just one field goal. … Spurred by Alabi, the Seminoles outscored OSU in the paint 44-18. … A VCA season-high 13,514 attended, including a student section Diebler was sure to credit. … Only seven Buckeyes saw action.

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