COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There was no complicated reason why David Lighty was so hot.
He was just open.
Lighty scored 13 of No. 2 Ohio State's first 16 points and sat out most of the second half while finishing with 29 points to lead the Buckeyes past UNC Asheville 96-49 on Tuesday night.
"I was knocking them down," he said. "I'm not sure what [defense] they really started in but I was wide open at the beginning of the game. I just started feeling good after I hit the first one."
Lighty, who came in averaging 11.6 points, had 23 at halftime. He left with 10:23 left -- one point shy of his career high -- and did not return.
"We made some shots early and Dave was rolling," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Honestly, I think we just took advantage of what they were giving us."
Lighty hadn't hit double figures in his past four games but had that covered in the opening 2:45.
"I honestly felt Lighty was their best player," Asheville coach Ed Biedenbach said. "We elected to try to point him in our zone. What we did was we turned him loose to show that he was one of the best players around."
He almost outscored the Bulldogs in the opening half by himself. He hit 9 of 12 shots from the field including 5 of 7 3-pointers as the Buckeyes led 48-24.
Down 26 points in the opening half, the Bulldogs scored 10 of the first 12 points in the second half to pull to 50-34, but then Lighty made a 3 and the Buckeyes were off and running again.
Asheville fell to 0-12 against Big Ten teams. The Bulldogs have played eight of their 11 games on the road, including an 80-69 loss at then-No. 24 North Carolina on Nov. 23 and an 87-72 defeat at then-No. 16 Georgetown on Nov. 27.
Over its past four games, Ohio State has had three different players score at least 29 points. First Sullinger set an Ohio State freshman record when he had 40 points against IUPUI, then two games later Jon Diebler tied the school record with nine 3-pointers in scoring 29. And now Lighty.
"That's how our season's been going so far," Lighty said. "There's not one person you can key on."
Biedenbach said he didn't have much choice but to lay off Lighty.
"It's an old cliche of coaches, which I don't particularly like, but you have to pick your poison," he said. "They're that good. You can't just go out there and play them straight up when you're UNC Asheville and expect to win the game."
The 23-year-old Lighty is the Buckeyes' elder statesman. He came in with the "Thad Five" in the fall of 2006, a recruiting class that included three players (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook) who would be taken in the first round of the NBA draft after their freshman season.
He missed most of the 2008-09 season with a broken bone in his foot, had his finest season a year ago and then re-broke a bone in the same foot this past spring, requiring more rehab.
The fifth-year senior from Cleveland was making his 99th start. He's played at Ohio State with six first-round draft picks, played in the 2007 NCAA title game and his teams have won 106 games in which he's played -- just five off the school mark.
Lighty's previous career high came 364 days earlier on Dec. 22, 2009, against Cleveland State.
"Maybe I'm happy to go home," he said with a wide grin. "I'm not sure what it is. But I'm just happy we got a win and we almost put 40 minutes together."
Against Asheville, he set career highs for field goals made (11), 3-pointers made (seven) and attempted (10) and he matched his most field goals attempted (16).
"They opened in a triangle-and-two [against Sullinger]," Matta said. "[Our guys] found him. He was the open guy. He kind of got rolling there. He did a good job of driving it. Once again, we did a good job of moving the basketball tonight, finding open guys."
Asheville's John Nwannunu suffered an injury in the final minutes and was helped to the dressing room.