Mountaineers Climb Over OSU In Second Half

The Ohio State men's basketball team could not hold onto a 14-point lead in the first half Saturday afternoon at West Virginia and fell 71-65. The Buckeyes dominated the first 20 minutes, but West Virginia was even better after halftime.

The first half was wonderful for the Ohio State men's basketball team in its Jan. 23 nonconference showdown at West Virginia.

The second half was, well, not.

The No. 21 Buckeyes led by as many as 14 in the first half and held a 40-28 lead at halftime, but the No. 11 Mountaineers dominated after intermission and handed OSU a disappointing 71-65 loss.

West Virginia opened the second half on a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to two points and clamped down defensively after the break. Ohio State could not answer the run, and the Mountaineers eventually pulled ahead and cruised to victory.

"It's a classic case of having to put two good halves together," Ohio State assistant coach Alan Major said on the OSU Basketball Radio Network. "We probably had 28-30 good minutes, and good teams make you pay for not having that extra 10 (minutes)."

The game was a tale of two halves. Things could not have started better for the Buckeyes, who opened the game by scoring the first eight points and forcing West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins to burn over of three timeouts WVU would use in the first half. Jon Diebler started the early run with a three-pointer, and David Lighty added one of his own on OSU's next possession. Lighty then stole a Mountaineer pass and found an open Evan Turner, who put an exclamation point on the start with a 360-degree dunk.

Things kept rolling for Ohio State throughout the half. The lead grew to 14 when William Buford, who finished with 11 points at the break, made a jumper to extend the lead to 29-15 with 8:52 left in the half. The Mountaineers cut the deficit to 10 points, 35-25, at the 4:14 mark, but the Buckeyes scored four of the last six points of the half to go into the break with a 40-28 lead.

After the break it was all West Virginia. The Mountaineers, led by an impressive performance by De'Sean Butler, exerted their will. Butler finished with a game-high 21 points, and West Virginia outrebounded Ohio State 22-10 over the final 20 minutes.

The battle on the glass was even at 13-13 at halftime.

West Virginia tied the game for the first time when Darryl Bryant made an open three-pointer to knot the score at 52-52 at the 10:16 mark. It was one of 10 threes the Mountaineers made on the afternoon, including five in the first half that helped keep the Buckeyes from running away with a bigger lead.

Dallas Lauderdale answered the Bryant three with a layup, but Mountaineers responded with the next five points. Kevin Jones made a shot in the lane over Lauderdale to retie the game, and Butler then gave West Virginia its first lead with a three-pointer to make it 57-54 with 8:56 remaining.

Buford answered with a basket, but that would be the last field goal Ohio State would make until the game's final minute. Struggles from the foul line by Turner hurt the Buckeyes as West Virginia pulled away. After Turner made a pair of free throws to cut the WVU lead to 59-58 with 7:01 left the standout from Chicago missed four of seven free throws.

The Mountaineers took advantage of OSU's missed opportunities to build a 69-61 lead with 2:57 remaining. The Buckeyes cut the lead to four, 69-65, with two Diebler free throws and a Lauderdale tip-in of a Turner miss with 56.7 seconds remaining, but that would be as close as the Buckeyes would get. Diebler missed a three from the top of the key with less than 10 seconds remaining, and Bryant left no doubt by making a pair of free throws with 5.7 seconds left.

Buford led the Ohio State attack with 22 points. Diebler, who battled foul trouble, finished with 11 points – all but two in the first half. Turner recorded another double double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Bryant and Wellington Smith joined Butler with double-figure scoring outputs. Bryant finished with 14 points, while Smith netted 11. Smith also made 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc.

Jones scored nine points to go with 11 rebounds. All of his nine points came on three-pointers.

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