Prior to Sunday’s victory over Minnesota, Ohio State guard David Lighty had never seen OSU coach Thad Matta award a game ball to a player following a game. On Sunday, Lighty became the first that he’s aware of to receive such an honor.
“I got 111 wins, so he gave me the game ball,” Lighty said with a smile following the game.
More than four years after arriving in Columbus as a part of the heralded 2006 OSU men’s basketball team’s recruiting class, Lighty has now earned more wins than any other Buckeye in the program’s history.
OSU’s 67-64 win Sunday gave Lighty his 111th win as a Buckeye, moving him past former OSU walk-ons Danny Peters and Mark Titus.
Matta described the moments following OSU’s latest victory as “emotional.”
“David has never probably gotten the respect that I have for him, in my eyes, and just what he’s meant to this basketball program,” Matta said. “For him today to achieve that is very gratifying for me.”
Lighty’s run to the OSU record book got off to a fast start during his freshman season when the Buckeyes won 35 games en route to a National Championship Game appearance, which they lost to Florida. The following season, OSU won 24 games and the captured the National Invitational Tournament championship.
In the 2008-09 season, Lighty earned seven wins to his credit before breaking his foot and earning a medical redshirt for the remainder of the season. After returning for the 2009-10 season, Lighty and the rest of the Buckeyes won 29 games before losing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to Tennessee.
This season, the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes are 16-0.
In OSU’s win over Minnesota on Sunday, Lighty scored a team-high 19 points, including back-to-back second-half 3-pointers that helped the Buckeyes gain the lead over the Golden Gophers. OSU guard Jon Diebler said Lighty’s impact on a game couldn’t be measured by merely checking a box score.
“The one thing about Dave is that he makes everyone around him better,” Diebler said. “He may not average the most points, the most rebounds, the most assists or steals, but he’s a guy who we have to have on the court just because of all the intangibles that he brings.”
Having spent his career as a Buckeye playing alongside NBA first-round picks such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Evan Turner, Lighty has earned for his versatility and the defensive presence that he has brought to OSU teams. Matta said it’s fitting that a player of Lighty’s nature now has more wins than any OSU player in school history.
“The things that he has brought to this program, all the intangibles that he brings to the program,” Matta said. “He’s definitely one of my all-time favorites that I’ve coached, anywhere.”