Balanced scoring and defense lead Buckeyes past Golden Gophers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Evan Turner made seven free throws in the final 64 seconds, leading Ohio State past No. 19 Minnesota 64-58 Saturday night for the Buckeyes’ fifth win this season over a ranked opponent.

Two of the wins have come this week, with the Buckeyes (17-5, 7-4 Big Ten) beating No. 12 Purdue 80-72 on Tuesday night.

Turner finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Jon Diebler and William Buford each scored 11 points and B.J. Mullens had 10 for Ohio State. The Buckeyes won their fourth in a row while running their record against ranked opponents to 5-4.

Blake Hoffarber, scoreless in the first half, tossed in 19 points – all but one on 3-pointers – for the Golden Gophers (18-5, 6-5). Damian Johnson added 12.

The Buckeyes never trailed after a 10-0 first-half spurt but had to scratch and claw down the stretch to hang on to the lead.

Ohio State led by three at the half and stretched the lead to 38-31 on two free throws by B.J. Mullens at the 13:52 mark.

The Golden Gophers drew to within four points twice before the Buckeyes pulled away again. Simmons hit a 3 from the right corner off a Buford assist, then Diebler took a kick-out pass from Mullens and made another 3 from the left corner to push the lead to 46-36 with just under 9 minutes left.

With Hoffarber hitting three consecutive 3s, the Gophers pulled back to 49-45.

A pair of Dallas Lauderdale free throws – his only points of the game – and a Mullens layup boosted the lead back to eight points before Hoffarber drilled another 3 from the right wing and was fouled. He hit the foul shot to complete the four point play, cutting the lead in half.

Turner countered with a rebound follow and then after Hoffarber missed a 3, Turner was called for a foul on the defensive rebound – prompting a loud and raucous crowd at Value City Arena to boo the officials and chant an obscenity.

Mullens then dunked a follow of a Diebler missed 3 before Johnson scored on a swing move underneath with 1:29 left to cut the lead to 57-54.

Turner was fouled on a drive with 1:04 left and hit both shots, then did the same with 38.7 and 29.3 seconds left to swell the lead to 63-54. He later added another foul shot.

Minnesota had won the last two meetings with the Buckeyes, including a 68-59 win at Williams Arena on Jan. 3. The Golden Gophers outrebounded the Buckeyes 42-30 in that game while collecting 15 offensive boards. But they held only a 38-31 edge on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes have won seven of their last 11 games against ranked teams. When Minnesota is ranked, Ohio State is now 12-12 against the Golden Gophers.

Down 13-7 early, the Buckeyes used a 10-0 surge to take the lead. Buford got it going with a stop-and-pop 18-footer from the right side and later added a 3 from the right corner. Diebler also hit a 3 and Turner hit two foul shots in the spurt.

The Buckeyes led by as many as eight points before the Golden Gophers drew to 27-26 on Damian Johnson’s steal from Turner that led to Johnson’s offbalance layup at the other. But Turner closed the half with a herky-jerky one-on-one move in the lane for a 29-26 Ohio State lead at the break.

The Buckeyes had only four turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, finishing with 10.

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