Road woes continue for Gophers

No. 20 Ohio State dominated Minnesota in almost every facet Sunday.

Ohio State forward Dallas Lauderdale slam dunks during a game against the Gophers in on Sunday Columbus, Ohio. The Gophers lost 63-85.

Ohio State forward Dallas Lauderdale slam dunks during a game against the Gophers in on Sunday Columbus, Ohio. The Gophers lost 63-85.

Marco LaNave

COLUMBUS, Ohio âÄî The Gophers menâÄôs basketball team has come agonizingly close to several key victories this season, but its latest chance at a signature win was disappointingly feeble. Three players scored at least 19 points for No. 20 Ohio State, which shot 73 percent in the first half and coasted to an 85-63 rout of Minnesota before 17,125 spectators Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena . Three weeks after beating the Buckeyes (16-6 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) at Williams Arena, the Gophers (13-8, 4-5) didnâÄôt give themselves a chance to win, head coach Tubby Smith said. âÄúThis has been our worst defensive effort in a long time,âÄù Smith said. Buckeyes All-Big Ten guard Evan Turner, who scored 19 points in MinnesotaâÄôs 73-62 win Jan. 9, was virtually a one-man wrecking crew in the first half, scoring 15 points, including seven unassisted baskets. He also had five assists and four steals, three of which turned into points. Ohio State scored 15 points off of nine first-half turnovers by Minnesota. âÄúI think we were a lot more jittery, a lot more excited, anxious to get out and play, so I feel that we kind of took that the wrong way,âÄù said sophomore center Ralph Sampson, who scored 11 first-half points but didnâÄôt attempt a field goal the rest of the way. âÄúInstead of calming down and playing to our strengths, we tried to go fast-paced the whole time.âÄù The Gophers shot 55 percent in the first half, but they never led. With the game tied at 11, Gophers sophomore center Colton Iverson missed a potential go-ahead dunk, and the Buckeyes capitalized on the ensuing breakaway. Turner threw a lob pass to fellow guard William Buford, who dunked it for two of his game-high 26 points to start a 12-2 Ohio State run. The Gophers twice closed the lead to five, but the Buckeyes went on a 15-4 run that included seven points from Buford, whose 26 points was a career high. The Buckeyes held a 49-35 lead at halftime, but a stint in the locker room didnâÄôt cool their shooting, as they made five of their first six second-half shots. They also made three of their first four 3-pointers. In all, Ohio State made 30 of its first 41 shots of the game, including eight of 14 from 3-point range. âÄúI think weâÄôve got to apply more ball pressure and guard the perimeter a little better âĦ force them to take tough shots and donâÄôt give up [easy shots],âÄù said Gophers senior forward Damian Johnson, who scored 10 points. Buckeyes guard Jon Diebler finished with 19 points, as did Turner, who added eight assists. The Buckeyes finished with 24 points off of 17 Minnesota turnovers and outscored the Gophers 16-4 on the fast break. Minnesota was hurt by the absence of junior point guard Al Nolen, perhaps the teamâÄôs best defender, for a third-straight game, but Smith said that didnâÄôt explain the poor defensive showing. âÄúThe tempo of your defense is set usually by your point of attack, and your point guard is usually a guy that can keep a lot of pressure on [the ball],âÄù Smith said. âÄúIâÄôm sure it had some effect but not this much effect.âÄù Minnesota has lost five of its past seven games, including three on the road to ranked opponents. The GophersâÄô remaining chances for wins against ranked teams will be at home Feb. 18 and Feb. 24 against Wisconsin and Purdue, respectively. But before that, the Gophers must start playing better and smarter, beginning with their next game at Penn State (8-13, 0-9) on Saturday. âÄúI really donâÄôt think about the NCAA tournament,âÄù Smith said. âÄúAfter today, we better figure out how we can win another game, how to get better.âÄù