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January 9, 2011

Lighty becomes all-time wins leader

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was almost fitting that David Lighty was sitting on the bench for the final two minutes of Ohio State's close win over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

Though Lighty said he felt helpless sitting on the bench in the final minutes of the game after fouling out with 2:30 to go, the win over the Gophers gave the senior career-win No. 111, the most all-time of any Ohio State basketball player.

And just like the previous record-holders Mark Titus and Danny Peters - walk-ons who achieved the record last year though rarely seeing game action - Lighty got to view the milestone as a spectator.

Given Lighty's role on the team, however, the senior didn't expect he'd become the program's winningest player by sitting back powerless as his teammates tried to preserve the win.

"It's the most nervous I've been here," Lighty said. "I've got to find ways to stay in the game."

Though Lighty wasn't on the floor as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the senior certainly had his hand in the outcome that kept the No. 2 Buckeyes' (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) incredible run to start the season alive.

Lighty finished with a game-high 19 points, including back-to-back three-point buckets that helped Ohio State extend its lead over the Gophers to 18 with roughly eight minutes remaining in the game.

But the Buckeyes were out-scored 27-12 down the stretch of the game and found themselves staring at a final Minnesota possession with the Gophers down by three with 15.1 seconds remaining on the clock.

Lighty, the team's best defender, was on the bench and Minnesota was looking to sharp-shooter Blake Hoffarber to bring the game even for the Gophers and potentially force overtime.

Minnesota attempted to get Hoffarber the ball on the final possession, but solid defense from Jon Diebler, who fought through two screens, prevented the Gophers' three-point specialist from getting the ball.

Without any other options, Minnesota's Austin Hollins was forced to shoot the ball, which was blocked by William Buford and the Buckeyes escaped with the win. Lighty, of course, got the record.

"Coach Matta knew they were going to try to get Hoffarber the ball," said freshman big man Jared Sullinger said. "We knew he was going to come off two screens. We said whoever was on the top sell out and make somebody else make a three. (Dallas Lauderdale) did that and it really just discombobulated them."

In his time with the program, Lighty has been a part of many types of wins. It is this kind of win, where he picked up five fouls in just 26 minutes on the floor, that he didn't expect.

But Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, who gave Lighty the game ball following the win, has repeatedly acknowledged how much Lighty's play means to his team.

"For me it was a very emotional moment," Matta said. "I think David has never really gotten the respect (from outsiders) that I have for him in my eyes just with what he has meant to this basketball program."

With countless greats playing for the Buckeyes before him - which is filled with names like Jerry Lucas, Jon Havlicek, Jim Jackson, and Evan Turner - Lighty knows the weight of the record.

But with the Buckeyes standing on a perfect 16-0 record and a top five ranking, Lighty is just hoping that wins number continues to grow en route to the ultimate goal.

"Hopefully (the record) means you're doing something right," Lighty said. "That also comes from my coaches and teammates as well. I couldn't go out and do it myself. With so many great players who have been here, to have my name in the record books for wins in an honor for me."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.

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