for this game

Buckeyes stay perfect with win over Iona

Dec 20, 2008 - 8:06 PM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Evan Turner scored a game-high 21 points and Jon Diebler added 16 as 16th-ranked Ohio State remained unbeaten with a 71-53 victory over Iona on Saturday at Value City Arena.

William Buford contributed 10 points off the bench for Ohio State, which improved to 8-0 and won its 53rd consecutive home game over an unranked non-conference opponent.

The Buckeyes also have won 13 consecutive contests dating to last season, when the team claimed the NIT championship.

Turner did most of his damage in the second half after netting just five points over the first 20 minutes.

"I work better when I'm in the middle of the court, so when they left the middle open I tried to exploit that," said Turner, who also led the team with six rebounds. "The first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I should have been, so coach (Thad Matta) told me to be more aggressive and attack the middle. Coach was right and I had a better second half."

Ohio State had lost its only other meeting with the Gaels (4-7) back in 1981, and over the first 22 minutes it appeared that a repeat could be in the making.

The Buckeyes appeared to be gaining the upperhand at 21-14, but 3-pointers from Kashif Pratt, Milan Prodanovic and Jonathan Huffman allowed the Gaels to pull within 28-24 by halftime.

Iona continued to keep the pressure on at the start of the second half as another 3-pointer from Prodanovic and baskets from Alejo Rodriguez and Scott Machado forged a 31-28 lead.

The Buckeyes got untracked at that point, however, going on a 16-4 run that was punctuated by William Buford's alley-oop dunk off a feed from Jeremie Simmons.

Iona got to within 55-47, but would get no closer as Turner and Diebler - who converted 11 of 12 free throws - padded the Buckeyes' lead down the stretch.

This marked the Buckeyes first game without forward David Lighty, who is out six to 12 weeks after breaking his foot in Wednesday's win over Jacksonville. The 6-foot-5 junior was averaging 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds this season.

"I just told them that they're security blanket (Lighty) isn't here and that it is time to play some basketball, that was the gist of it," said Matta, when asked what he told the team during a timeout in the opening moments of the second half.

Rodriguez netted 17 points to lead Iona, which fell to 0-7 against top 25 teams since beating then-No. 22 North Carolina in December 2002.