Here was another ominous sign for the Gophers, the Big Ten's worst free throw shooting team. They went 14 for 18 and still didn't make it game. They shot 51 percent from the field.
The conference's leading rebounding team was beaten 23-15 on the boards in the first half, and either Sullinger or freshman Deshaun Thomas seemed to get a hand on every miss.
Dallas Lauderdale had Ohio State's first six points of the second half. The 6-8 mean-looking shot-blocking specialist, the lowest scorer in Matta's seven-man rotation, included a violent two-handed dunk off an alley-oop inbounds pass in that stretch.
"It's just being confident in ourselves and in our system," Lighty said. "It's executing down the stretch and not getting rattled."
Lighty has played with six first-round NBA draft picks already in his college career, and he'll likely add at least one more to the list whenever Sullinger leaves. For now, this all-Ohio-grown group, except for the freshman Thomas from next-door Indiana, is chugging impressively forward in the chase for a championship while also protecting this unblemished won-loss record.
"They can tell you we haven't lost, but they couldn't tell you how many we've won in a row. They have a good way about them," Matta said.
NO. 9 NOTRE DAME 76, RUTGERS 69: At South Bend, Ind., Ben Hansbrough scored 25 points and Carleton Scott had 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead Notre Dame to its fifth straight win. Scott Martin had 14 points and Tim Abromaitis added 10 for the Irish (19-4, 8-3) who reclaimed sole possession of second place in the Big East. Jonathan Mitchell scored 24 points for Rutgers (12-11, 3-8) while Dane Miller added 11. Notre Dame was 27 of 34 from the free throw line and scored only two field goals over the last 8 minutes. Rutgers was 8 of 12 from the line.
NO. 19 WISCONSIN 82, MICHIGAN ST. 56: At Madison, Wisc., Jordan Taylor scored 30 points and Wisconsin handed Michigan State its fifth loss in six games. The loss was just short of the Spartans' worst ever to the Badgers, a 27-point defeat in 1972, and comes on the heels of a 20-point loss to last-place Iowa. Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3 Big Ten) shot 59 percent from the field for the game, including 11 of 17 from 3-point range. Kalin Lucas had 20 points for Michigan State (13-10, 5-6), which won the teams' earlier meeting in overtime. The Badgers led 43-25 at halftime after shooting 65 percent from the field. They led by as many as 33 points in the second half.
NO. 23 NORTH CAROLINA 89, FLORIDA ST. 69: At Chapel Hill, N.C., Freshman Kendall Marshall had nine points and a season-high 16 assists for North Carolina while classmate Harrison Barnes scored 17 points. The Tar Heels (17-5, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) led almost the entire way and ripped through the Seminoles' stingy defense to win for the 10th time in 11 games. North Carolina's 89 points and 56 percent shooting were the most allowed by the Seminoles (16-7, 6-3) this season. Tyler Zeller and John Henson both scored 16 points for the Tar Heels, while Dexter Strickland had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in a season-high 35 minutes. Chris Singleton scored 15 points to lead Florida State, which had won the past two meetings between the schools.
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