There’s no arguing who the go-to player is on the Ohio State men’s basketball team.
Whenever the Buckeyes desperately need a basket they turn to junior guard Evan Turner.
As Turner continually leads OSU in every offensive statistical category, he is the recipient of frequent accolades and praise for his contribution to the team.
But as Turner gets all the attention, the team’s most experienced player, junior David Lighty, quietly goes about his business playing a vital role on the nation’s 21st-ranked team. After originally making a name for himself as the Buckeyes’ best defensive player, this year Lighty has shown a knack for filling in any and every role his team needs him to fill.
Take last week for example.
The Buckeyes were at Purdue and Boilermaker guard Robbie Hummel had just torched OSU for 29 points in the first half. With seemingly no answer for Hummel’s prolific shooting, coach Thad Matta turned to Lighty to stop the bleeding.
“I told the guys at halftime we need to change up or he’s going to get about 100 points in this game,” Matta said. “I challenged Dave to guard him and he did a great job.”
After Hummel’s impressive first half shooting display, Lighty held him to a mere six points over the course of the final 20 minutes.
Although Lighty finished with just five of his team’s 70 points, he kept the Buckeyes in the game with his effort on the defensive end.
Saturday’s game, however, required Lighty to make his mark on the other end of the floor.
With Turner’s minutes limited due to early foul trouble, Lighty took the over as the Buckeyes’ go-to scorer and finished the game with a team-high 18 points.
“The defense in the Purdue game to the scoring in the Wisconsin game,” Matta said. “Those are all things that this team needs.”
Though Matta made it clear that he never underestimates Lighty’s contribution to the team, the coach acknowledged that some people may not completely comprehend just how important he is.
“I said last year when he went down,” Matta said referencing a season-ending foot injury Lighty sustained last season. “I don’t think anybody completely understood the magnitude of that injury. He does so many things to help [our] team win.”
For Lighty, the lack of attention is nothing new.
He arrived on campus as perhaps the least talked about member of coach Matta’s 2006 recruiting class. He was a role player the following year on the Buckeyes’ NIT championship team and he missed most of the next season with the foot injury.
And now, with the emergence of Turner as the face of the Ohio State program, Lighty yet again seems to have been designated to a background role.
But whether or not he gets the respect he deserves from the general public, Matta is always quick to mention the importance of having Lighty on the floor.
“I don’t know, with David, if there’s one thing that I can say that, ‘this is so important,'” Matta said. “There are so many things that he does that add up to help [our] team.”