COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Jon Diebler scored 20 points and David Lighty added 11 to lead No. 3 Ohio State past Morehead State 64-45 on Tuesday night to win the Global Sports Invitational.
The Buckeyes (4-0) were without one of their top shooters, junior swingman William Buford, who was held out of the game because of back pain.
Foul trouble and cold shooting kept Ohio State from pulling away until late in the game.
Freshman Deshaun Thomas scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half for the Buckeyes.
Kenneth Faried, battling foul trouble most of the night, had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Ty Proffitt added 12 points for the Eagles (2-3), who had battled on even terms at No. 16 Florida before falling 61-55 on Sunday.
Freshman point guard Aaron Craft started in place of Buford, who was held out as a precautionary measure after suffering from back spasms in the Buckeyes’ last game, a 40-point win over UNC-Wilmington. The junior is expected to be back on Friday when the Buckeyes play Miami (Ohio).
Fortunate to be ahead by six points at the half, the Buckeyes turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions on intercepted entry passes to start the second 20 minutes.
Unable to generate much out of its offense, Ohio State finally started finding the range in transition.
Hanging on to a 35-32 lead early in the second half, the Buckeyes scored 11 of the next 14 points with five players getting points. Diebler’s 3-pointer from the left corner at the 7:41 mark made it 49-38.
The Buckeyes were helped when Morehead State’s Faried collected his fourth foul at the 15:17 mark with the Buckeyes up 37-32. With him on the bench, they scored nine of the next 12 points for some breathing room.
Ohio State’s freshmen, who had starred in their first three games, took a back seat to the vets in a game in which points were hard to get.
Jared Sullinger, the reigning Big Ten co-player of the week, finished with eight points and eight rebounds but had his troubles early.
The Buckeyes came out cold against Morehead State’s zone and had their hands full at the other end with the smaller, quicker Eagles in the opening half.
It took almost 2 1/2 minutes for the Buckeyes to get their first basket and they trailed 9-4 after the first 6 minutes. Sullinger struggled at the outset, missing three quick shots and picking up two fouls. Fellow big man Dallas Lauderdale, jousting inside with Faried, picked up three fouls.
But with Thomas giving an early jolt with four points and Diebler finding the range behind the arc, the Buckeyes gradually fought their way back. A 7-0 run featuring a 3-pointer by Diebler put them ahead 13-10, then they pulled away from a tie at 17 with another 7-0 spurt behind two foul shots and another 3 by Diebler.
They led 30-24 at the break despite hitting just 41 percent from the field – they came in shooting 52 percent.
Diebler and Lighty, had 11 and nine points, respectively.
Faried was strong inside with nine points, seven rebounds, two blocks and three steals.
Ohio State has won all four meetings with the Eagles.