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Ohio State pulls away in NIT opener

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jamar Butler had 21 points and 10 assists to lead Ohio State past UNC-Asheville 84-66 on Tuesday night in an NIT first-round game.

During one span in the second half, the senior point guard scored or assisted on 15 consecutive points for the Buckeyes.

Othello Hunter had 16 points, Kosta Koufos 15 and David Lighty 13 for the Buckeyes, who shot 56 percent while making their eighth NIT appearance.

The victory extended coach Thad Matta's string of 20-win seasons. He's won at least that many in all eight years he's been a head coach.

Reid Augst had 20 points, Bryan Smithson 17 and K.J. Garland 10 for the Bulldogs, the first Big South Conference team to play in an NIT game.

Asheville's 7-foot-7 Kenny George played well, scoring 12 points with 11 rebounds. He shot 6-of-7 and had a block.

The Buckeyes built a 10-point lead at halftime and pulled away.

Butler had a hand in all of the scoring in a 15-7 run midway through, scoring 10 and assisting on a 3-pointer by Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale's dunk off an inbounds pass for a 70-54 lead.

The Bulldogs never threatened again.

The Buckeyes had two big streaks in the first half, going on a 10-0 run for a 27-16 lead only to have the Bulldogs counterpunch with a 12-2 run to pull to 29-28. Ohio State then closed the half on a 16-7 run for a 45-35 lead.

SYRACUSE 87, ROBERT MORRIS 81: Freshman forward Donte Greene scored a season-high 27 and the host Orange survived 16 3-pointers. Syracuse gave coach Jim Boeheim his 30th 20-win season in 32 years. Freshman point guard Jonny Flynn, who injured his back in Syracuse's Big East tournament loss to Villanova last week, had only one basket, late in the first half. It was an awkward shot along the baseline that caromed in off the glass. Flynn went to the bench after the shot in apparent discomfort and did not play again. Flynn, the second-leading scorer on the team, had played all but three minutes of the previous 13 games.

UMASS 80, SFA 60: Dante Milligan scored a career-high 24 and had nine rebounds and seven blocks for the host Minutemen. UMass led by as many as 12 in the first half. But Stephen F. Austin cut the advantage to 33-25 at halftime and opened the second half on a 9-2 run to get within 35-34. Etienne Brower and Chris Lowe each had five points in a 12-0 run that put the Minutemen up 47-34. The Minutemen dominated from there.

CBI

VIRGINIA 66, RICHMOND 64: Sean Singletary scored 18, making a go-ahead jumper with 1:16 to play, and the host Cavaliers won an opening-round game of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational tournament. Dan Geriot scored 22, including 10 during a 16-5 run that gave Richmond a 61-49 lead with 8:41 left.

ODU 68, RIDER 65: Frank Hassell scored 14 and the host Monarchs held on.

OHIO 80, BROWN 74: Jerome Tillman had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the host Bobcats overcame 39 points from Damon Huffman.

>>FAST FACTS

NIT first round

Tonight: Florida vs.

San Diego State

When/where: 9; Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Gainesville

TV/radio: ESPN; 1250-AM

Records: San Diego State 20-12; Florida 21-11

Notable: After winning back-to-back national titles, Florida finds itself in the NIT for the first time since 1998 — a 71-69 loss to Georgetown in John Thompson's last season. It was the first postseason appearance for then-second year coach Billy Donovan, left. San Diego State is 6-6 in its final 12 games, the Gators are 4-8 and on a four-game losing streak. Still, despite the struggles and the disappointment over not making the Big Dance, the UF players say they won't take this tournament lightly. "We're playing for a championship," freshman guard Nick Calathes said. "It's not what we wanted to play for, but we're going to play for a championship."

Today's other games

• Cleveland State (21-12)

at Dayton (21-10), 6 p.m.

• Morgan State (22-10) at Virginia Tech (19-13), 7 p.m.

• UAB (22-10) at Virginia Commonwealth (24-7), 7 p.m.

• UC Santa Barbara (23-8) at Mississippi (21-10), 8 p.m.

• Charlotte (20-13) at Nebraska (19-12), 9 p.m.

• Utah State (24-10) at Illinois State (24-9), 10 p.m.

• New Mexico (24-8) at California (16-15), 11 p.m.

Antonya English,

Times staff writer

Ohio State pulls away in NIT opener 03/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:43am]
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