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Ohio State holds on to edge Minnesota

Jan 10, 2011 - 3:28 AM Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - David Lighty scored 19 points as second-ranked Ohio State weathered a final-minute rally by Minnesota to beat the Golden Gophers, 67-64, at Value City Arena.

Jared Sullinger added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten), who have won their first 16 games of the season for the first time since the 1990-91 team went 17-0.

Aaron Craft totaled 11 points and seven assists in a victory Ohio State got only after making a strong defensive stand on the game's final possession. The Gophers (12-4, 1-3) held the ball with a chance to tie, but didn't get off a good shot and lost for the third time in their last four games.

Trevor Mbakwe had 16 points and 12 boards to lead Minnesota, which trailed by 18 with about 8 1/2 minutes left but used a 12-1 run to get within 56-49.

The Gophers still trailed by seven, 66-59, with a minute to go, but nearly made up the distance thanks to poor free throw shooting by the Buckeyes. After Al Nolen sank two from the line for Minnesota, Ohio State's Jon Diebler made 1-of-2.

On the Gophers' next possession, Nolen drove down the lane on the right side and tossed up a shot as he careened off the OSU defense. The layup was good, and Nolen made the subsequent free throw to pull Minnesota within 67-64 with 44.6 seconds to go.

The Gophers then fouled Buckeyes center Dallas Lauderdale, a strategic move given that Lauderdale entered the game as a 33-percent free throw shooter. Lauderdale missed both, giving Minnesota the ball with about half a minute to play.

After Nolen missed a layup, Lauderdale got the rebound but threw the ball to Gophers guard Austin Hollins, who missed a short shot. The ensuing scrum sent the ball out of bounds, and Minnesota retained possession with 15 seconds left.

Nolen stabbed toward the basket on the left side, but found himself inside the three-point line and dumped the ball off to Hollins. With time running out, Hollins needed to shoot and took an attempt that didn't even reach the basket because it was blocked by William Buford.

"The ball was supposed to go in the basket. We need to have better execution," said Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith. "That play didn't cost us the game. We had our chances."

Ohio State held Minnesota to eight field goals in the first half and held a 32-22 lead at the break.

"Defensively we did exactly what we wanted to," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said of the first half. "Offensively we needed to swing the ball and we didn't get that done."

The Buckeyes held a 55-37 advantage with 8:31 left after Lighty sank consecutive three-pointers.

Game Notes

The Buckeyes improved to 11-0 this season at Value City Arena...OSU has won four of its last five meetings with the Gophers...Minnesota made 2-of-14 attempts from three-point range, but sank 24-of-27 free throws...Ohio State shot 39 percent, but took 11 more shots than the Gophers.