COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – David Lighty scored 19 points and No. 2 Ohio State survived a scare when Austin Hollins’ 3-pointer came up short in the final seconds, allowing the Buckeyes to remain unbeaten with a 67-64 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.
The Buckeyes (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) led by 18 points before the Golden Gophers (12-4, 1-3) rallied to pull within 67-64 on Al Nolen’s two free throws with 44.6 seconds left.
Coach Tubby Smith elected to foul Ohio State’s Dallas Lauderdale, a 33 percent free throw shooter, and he missed both with 28.5 seconds left.
The Gophers missed two shots inside before taking the ball out underneath the basket with 15 seconds remaining. With time running out, Nolen fed Hollins who got off a shot with 1 second left that was deflected by Ohio State’s William Buford.
Jared Sullinger had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes, with another freshman, point guard Aaron Craft, coming off the bench to score 11 points with seven assists.
Trevor Mbakwe totaled 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Gophers, with Nolen adding 11 points.
The Buckeyes played large segments of the game without Lauderdale and Lighty due to foul trouble. Lighty, who received the game ball for playing in an Ohio State-record 111th career victory, fouled out with 2:30 left.
Ohio State led 32-22 at halftime. Craft hit a 3 before stealing the ball at the other end. Jon Diebler then hit a 3 from the left wing. After Gerald Armelin scored for the Golden Gophers, Lighty – back in after several minutes on the bench – hit consecutive 3s to push the lead to 55-37.
Minnesota countered with an 8-0 run – half of the points coming at the line – to pull to 55-45. After a free throw by Sullinger and two foul shots apiece by Mbakwe and Williams it was 56-49.
The Golden Gophers, who hit all 19 of their free throws in the second half and finished 24 of 27 at the line, drew to 63-57 on two foul shots by Blake Hoffarber on Lighty’s fifth foul. After an Ohio State turnover, Colton Iverson’s half-hook made it 63-59.
No previous Ohio State opponent had taken more than 18 free throws in a game this season.
The Buckeyes are off to the fourth-best start in the program’s 112 seasons. Only the 1960-61 (27-0), 1961-62 (22-0) and 1990-91 (17-0) teams won more games to start a season.