Buckeyes, Turner overcome loss of Lighty to beat Iona, 71-53

Published 12:44 am Sunday, December 21, 2008

Evan Turner helped No. 17 Ohio State muddle through its anxiety over losing captain David Lighty.

Turner had 21 points and ignited a second-half rally with nine points and two blocked shots to guide the Buckeyes to a 71-53 victory over Iona on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (8-0) relied on a 13-5 run midway through the second half to quickly erase a deficit — right after coach Thad Matta ripped into his team during a timeout.

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‘‘Your security blanket is not here,’’ Matta said he told his players, referring to Lighty. ‘‘It’s time to play basketball.’’

Jon Diebler added 16 points and William Buford 10 for Ohio State (8-0), playing its first game since Lighty broke a bone in his left foot that will sideline him six to 12 weeks.

Asked how he was doing, Lighty flashed a grin and said, ‘‘I’m good — we won.’’

Alejo Rodriguez scored 17 points and Jonathan Huffman 14 for Iona (4-7). The Gaels were missing leading scorer Gary Springer, who is out with a sprained ankle.

Ohio State extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 13, including the final five games a year ago when it won the NIT.

Iona took a 31-28 lead with a rapid 7-0 run to start the second half, capped by Scott Machado’s 3-pointer.

A disgusted Matta signaled for a timeout.

‘‘He yelled at us at the beginning of the second half,’’ Turner said. ‘‘He was reminding us that everybody had to play hard because we didn’t have David. Everyone accepted the challenge.’’