The Buckeyes didn't need any last second heroics on Sunday afternoon as all five Ohio State (24-0, 11-0) starters scored in double figures as the team held the lead for almost the entire 40 minutes to remain perfect on the season with a 82-69 win over Minnesota (16-7, 5-6).
David Lighty led all scorers with 19 points while freshman phenom Jared Sullinger recorded his 11th career double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. William Buford had 15 points, Jon Diebler his a three pointer in his 40th straight game and had ten points while Dallas Lauderdale took advantage of added attention to Sullinger to score ten and break double figures for the fourth time this season.
Minnesota was led by Blake Hoffarber and his 16 points but the long range weapon never really found his stroke on Sunday and despite nailing some deep three pointers also threw up some erratic shots and even an air ball or two. Ralph Sampson III had 14 points to go along with true freshman Chip Armelin.
The first ten minutes of the game saw the Gophers hanging tough with the Buckeyes as Hoffarber got it done outside and the home team looked to Trevor Mbakwe inside. But the Gophers ran into problems on the glass despite being a big team and the total rebounding numbers ended up being deceptive with the Buckeyes attempting 22 more shots than the Gophers on the afternoon.
Not everything went according to plan for the Buckeyes however and freshman forward Sullinger is going to have a lot of work to do from the free throw line with the team having nearly a week until its next game. Sullinger was a dismal 2-8 from the line and this has marked the second straight game where his FT accuracy has been sub-standard. That has been a theme for the team as of late however with the who unit only going 50-percent (10/20) on the afternoon.
Despite Sullinger's lack of accuracy from the line the Gophers really did not have much of an answer for the Ohio State big man and the Buckeyes took advantage with the inside-outside game going through the hands of the freshman. The biggest recipient however had to be Lauderdale who saw an uncharacteristic 17 minutes in the game and hit his first five of five shots all with powerful dunks when he was left alone to his own devices.
Minnesota was hurt by the loss of point guard Al Nolen who is out with a broken foot and that required the Gophers to change their look and subsequently have a tougher go against Ohio State this time around.
The 24 straight wins is the second longest win streak to open a season in school history (the Buckeyes went 27-0 in the 1960-61 season) and during the last 40 games the Buckeyes have been an unbelievable 38-2. Things are not going to get any easier on Saturday however when the Buckeyes travel to Madison (Wis.) to take on the Wisconsin Badgers (17-5, 7-3) at the Kohl Center, a building where the Buckeyes have had nightmare after nightmare. That game will tip off at 2pm (EST) and be aired nationally on ESPN.