Behind a career night in 3-point shooting by senior Jon Diebler, the No. 2 Ohio State men’s basketball team remained undefeated as it breezed past Florida Gulf Coast University, 83-55, Wednesday night at the Schottenstein Center.
After missing his first two shots, Diebler picked apart FGCU’s zone defense, making nine 3-point shots in a row en route to scoring a career-high 29 points. His nine 3-pointers tied Jay Burson’s OSU single-game record set in 1988.
“It’s just one of those nights, I guess,” Diebler said. “It just feels like you can throw the ball in the ocean and it’s going to go in.”
The Buckeyes jumped out to an 18-3 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the first half and never looked back. Freshman guard Jordan Sibert assisted a one-handed dunk by classmate Lenzelle Smith for the final score of the half, bringing OSU’s lead to 42-16 at intermission.
The Eagles didn’t help their cause, committing 16 first-half turnovers against a disciplined OSU defense that didn’t allow a free throw during the game’s first 16 minutes. The Buckeyes also collected 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.
After committing three first-half turnovers, the Buckeyes got off to a sloppy start in the second half, doubling their turnover total in the first five minutes.
The Eagles took advantage of the Buckeyes’ mistakes, doubling their own point total within the first eight minutes of the second half.
“You’re ultimately striving for 40 minutes of great basketball,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “A lot of times, you need a hard lesson to get that across.”
FGCU cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 19 with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game. But Diebler fired back on the next possession with his seventh 3-pointer of the game, stretching OSU’s lead to 57-35 and sparking a second-half scoring streak for the Buckeyes, who led by as many as 33 points.
Freshman Jared Sullinger scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds despite playing just nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Junior William Buford added a season-high 17 points, becoming the 47th Buckeye to score 1,000 points in a career. Diebler and senior David Lighty also have achieved that milestone.
“It’s a real honor,” Buford said. “To look in the books before the game and see the people did reach 1,000. They were the greats at Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes return to action Saturday when they host South Carolina, their final non-conference opponent from a major conference.