Buckeyes use balance to beat Oakland 92-63

Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and five teammates also hit double figures to lead No. 2 Ohio State past Oakland 92-63 on Thursday night, giving coach Thad Matta his best start in his seven years with the Buckeyes.

Jared Sullinger had 16 points, Jon Diebler and David Lighty 13 each and Aaron Craft and William Buford 12 apiece for the Buckeyes (12-0). Dallas Lauderdale matched a career best with six blocked shots. Craft's point total was a career high. Lighty was making his 100th career start.

Travis Bader had 17 points and Larry Wright 12 for the weary Golden Grizzlies (7-8), playing their third game in four days and fourth in six.

Keith Benson, averaging 17.4 points a game, fouled out with eight points and 10 rebounds.

The Buckeyes started 11-0 in Matta's second season in 2005-6, ending up 26-6.

It was just another top opponent for Oakland, Mich. The Golden Grizzlies upset then-No. 7 Tennessee 89-82 on Dec. 14 — the program's only victory against a top 10 team. The loss to the Buckeyes dropped them to 2-28 against ranked opponents.

Leading by nine points at the break, the Buckeyes broke free by scoring 11 of the first 14 points in the second half. Five players scored, with Lighty hitting a 3-pointer and Sullinger, Lauderdale, Buford and Craft each adding a basket.

Down as many as 17, the Golden Grizzlies got as close as 50-40 on Benson's flip over his shoulder at the 13:53 mark before Ohio State pulled away by scoring the next 10 points. Again, the Buckeyes showed their balance, with five players scoring. Diebler hit a shot behind the arc while Lauderdale, Buford and Thomas each had two and Craft added a free throw to push the lead to 60-40 with 10:56 remaining.

The Buckeyes led 37-28 at halftime, playing just well enough to make an early lead stand up.

Despite outrebounding opponents by eight on the season, Ohio State was handled 21-19 on the boards and didn't shoot very well.

Sullinger had eight points but missed his last four shots from the field after making his first three. Lighty and Diebler each had seven points.

Sullinger opened the scoring on a 10-foot jumper and then added two free throws before Buford hit a half-hook and Sullinger followed with a turnaround to make it 8-0.

The Buckeyes had leads of 12-3 and 20-11 before the Grizzlies went on a 12-5 tear to pull to 31-27 late in the half. Lighty had an assist and a basket in the final minute to help Ohio State escape with a lead.

Benson got off just four shots, hitting three for six points, but had seven rebounds.

The Golden Grizzlies came in averaging 82 points a game.

Ohio State improved to 252-56 when ranked in the top 10, winning 43 of its last 45 games. The Buckeyes are 89-17 in non-conference games under Matta.