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With McClinton ejected, Ohio State rallies past Miami

Dec 3, 2008 - 4:43 AM CORAL GABLES, Florida (Ticker) -- Jack McClinton and Miami came out swinging, but Ohio State got the big blow.

Jon Diebler scored 14 of his career-high 20 points in the second half as Ohio State overcame a 14-point halftime deficit for a 73-68 victory over No. 22 Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.

Although they had been in control throughout the first half, the Hurricanes (4-2) absorbed a major blow when leading scorer McClinton was ejected near the midway point after committing a dead-ball flagrant foul.

McClinton was tossed from the game with his team leading, 19-7, with 10:12 left in the first half after the officials reviewed a play in which the senior guard took a swing at freshman guard Anthony Crater.

McClinton had gotten the ball on the left wing before Crater forced him to pass it after bumping him while defending closely. Following a pass back to the top of the key, McClinton swiped at Crater - apparently poking him in the eye - right in front of Ohio State coach Thad Matta.

With his defender dazed, McClinton then sank his fourth 3-pointer from the wing, giving Miami the 12-point lead.

With Matta protesting the lack of a call, the officiating crew went to the scorer's table after the basket to review the play and met with both coaches before ejecting McClinton for the flagrant foul.

"I heard it, saw our guy laying down," Matta said. "I didn't see (the incident), but our coaches saw it. It's unfortunate. He's one of the premier guards in college basketball. Things like that, I guess, are going to happen."

According to Miami coach Frank Haith, McClinton told him that he was only swinging at Crater after he was hit first.

"They said he hit the kid, but I think there was some altercation going back and forth," Haith said. "I want to see it. We were not allowed to see it. Jack said the kid swung at him. They were jawing back and forth.

"They went to the monitor, and that's what they saw. It's always the second guy. Jack said he was retaliating, which he should not do. I think he reacted."

McClinton, who entered the matchup averaging 15.8 points, had made all four of his 3-point attempts for 12 points before being kicked out.

With Miami missing its senior leader, Ohio State (4-0) charged out of the block in the second half, starting with a 15-2 run to close within 38-37 with 15:07 left.

"To our guys' credit, they came back and kept fighting," Matta said. "That's what you've got to do in college basketball on the road."

Diebler had five points during the run, even getting fouled on a missed 3-pointer. The sophomore guard made the first two free throws before missing the third, cutting the Buckeyes' deficit to 38-35.

"He's a captain for us," said Miami forward Jimmy Graham, who had seven points and six rebounds. "It was tough to adjust without him out there. We have to learn to win these without him."

Despite having the lead nearly erased, Lance Hurdle did his best to give the Hurricanes a jolt, scoring eight straight points. He started the stretch with an improbable shot, banking in a 3-pointer from six feet inside the midcourt line to beat the shot clock.

Despite the boost from Hurdle, Diebler sank two 3-pointers between Hurdle's last basket, keeping Ohio State within 50-46 with 11:56 to play.

The Buckeyes eventually pulled ahead 57-54 with 6:53 remaining after Jeremie Simmons capped an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer.

"We lost our intensity, gave them too many driving lanes in the second half that were not available in the first half," Haith said. "You've got to make plays in a game like this. We didn't have enough playmakers."

Brian Asbury answered back with a jumper for the Hurricanes, but the Buckeyes later went ahead 66-61 with 4:14 left on Diebler's sixth and final 3-pointer.

Miami got within one again at 68-67 on two free throws by Asbury with 34 seconds to play, but Evan Turner made three of four free throws over the next 12 ticks.

Turner finished with 19 points and David Lighty added 11 for Ohio State, which shot 55 percent (17-of-31) in the second half, including 6-of-9 on 3-pointers.

Hurdle scored 14 points for Miami, which dropped to 0-3 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

"We lost our intensity, gave them too many driving lanes in the second half that were not available in the first half," Haith said. "You've got to make plays in a game like this. We didn't have enough playmakers."

Cyrus McGowan had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Dwayne Collins added eight and 11 for the Hurricanes, who finished with a 49-34 advantage on the boards.