No. 4 Buckeyes Win Sixth Consecutive vs. Michigan 64-49

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 17 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds as No. 4 Ohio State flexed its muscle inside to beat No. 20 Michigan 64-49 on Sunday, keeping the Buckeyes in a first-place tie in the Big Ten.

Jared Sullinger added 13 points and William Bufford and Deshaun Thomas both had 12 for Ohio State (19-3, 7-2), which ran its winning streak over its archrival to six straight and eight of nine.

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points for the Wolverines (16-6, 6-3). Trey Burke, the conference’s top freshman point guard, returned to his hometown to play for the first time against Sullinger, his former high school teammate, and finished with 13 points.

Michigan fell to 1-5 on opponents’ home courts this season.

The Buckeyes extended their homecourt winning streak to 38, the second-longest in the program’s 100 years.

Leading by three points at halftime, the Buckeyes pulled away with a 14-2 run midway through the second half. Bookended by 3-pointers by Burke, most of the points came as a result of backdoor cuts or drives. It didn’t include a 3.

Buford, who was quiet throughout the first half, got it started with a driving layup. Later in the spurt he stepped in front of Burke’s crosscourt pass and streaked the length of the court for a dunk.

Smith, who had more offensive rebounds than Michigan almost all game, scored twice – a layup on an assist from Buford and a short baseline jumper. Aaron Craft, Thomas and Sullinger, who sat out portions of the game due to foul trouble, all contributed two points to make it 48-35.

The Wolverines drew as close as 50-43 on a basket by Morgan inside. Morgan then stole the ball from Sullinger and grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3 by Douglass. But as Morgan was bracing to go up for the follow, Craft darted in and stole the ball.

Craft, who finished with seven points, four assists and three steals, then had an assist on Thomas’ basket in traffic at the other end to make it 52-43. The lead never fell below eight points again.

The Buckeyes held a 24-21 lead after a grueling, physical, defense-dominated half.

Neither team was able to get into its offense because of the head-to-head battles, particularly between the point guards.

Burke had four assists and three turnovers to go with two points in 19 minutes. Craft managed two points with two turnovers and a steal. In a brief appearance, Shannon Scott had two steals.

There were four ties and seven lead changes in the first half.

Buford, Ohio State’s second-leading scorer and only senior, didn’t score in the opening 18:57 and finished the half with three points. Smith had nine points and seven rebounds.

Morgan had six points on 3-of-4 shooting while the rest of the team was 6 of 21.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor

No. 6 Ohio State Downs Nebraska 79-45

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LINCOLN, Neb. – Ohio State felt right at home in this road game. William Bufford scored 15 points, Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas had 14 apiece, and the sixth-ranked Buckeyes blew out Nebraska for the second time this month with a 79-45 victory Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (17-3, 5-3) swept their games against Nebraska by a combined 65 points and moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State.

They came to Lincoln with a 2-3 road record, including 1-2 against Big Ten opponents. They weren’t overly sharp, but still were good enough to beat the Huskers (10-9, 2-6) worse than they did in Columbus on Jan. 3, when they won 71-40.

“I see this team growing inch by inch, week by week,” coach Thad Matta said. “We’ve got to continue to hammer ’em. We had three great practices leading into this game. They were talking on the bench about what can happen if we keep practicing like that. Hopefully, we can continue that.”

Brandon Ubel and Bo Spencer had eight points apiece for Nebraska, which had two field-goal droughts of longer than eight minutes.The Huskers, who upset Indiana (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) 70-69 on Wednesday, were looking for consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time since February 2008.

They never had a chance, committing a season-high 27 turnovers and shooting a season-low 29.5 percent from the floor.

“I don’t think we could have played any worse,” Ubel said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that’s turned it over 27 times. You play that bad, with that many turnovers against a team like Ohio State, they’re going to make you pay, and that’s what happened.”The Buckeyes took their first double-digit lead 10 minutes into the game, going on a 13-0 run after the first media timeout to erase an 8-5 deficit.

“Being down that first timeout, we challenged our guys,” Matta said. “I thought Nebraska was playing harder than us. They were quicker to the play. Defensively, down the stretch of the first half, we did a good job limiting open looks and getting our hands on balls. We played tonight, and that was something we needed to do.”

Nebraska scored only 12 points on 4-of-20 shooting the last 15½ minutes of the half.”We started off well and then we got down six or eight,” Ubel said. “I think we might have started to panic a little bit.”

Fans started leaving the Devaney Sports Center with 12 minutes to play, when Ohio State led 56-28.

“When we’re connected and have five guys together, we have a pretty good half-court defense,” Matta said. “But we’ve got a tendency to lay low sometimes and give up easy baskets. Those are the things that can really bring you down.”

Sullinger, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the first game against Nebraska, took only three shots and was held to four points in the first half. Ubel and Jorge Brian Diaz took turns guarding him, and Spencer doubled him whenever he touched the ball in the post.Sullinger shook loose in the second half, scoring 10 points and even making a 3-pointer.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored only two points after recording a career-high 28 in last Sunday’s win over Indiana.

Ohio State shot just 45 percent and was outrebounded 40-34 in the 400th game coached by Matta at three schools.

The Buckeyes have won by 10 points or more in 15 of their 17 victories and increased their nation-leading average victory margin to 21.95 points.

“I did not see this at all,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “We just have to get back to going the way we were going. Does it hurt? Yeah it hurts. There is not anything that we did from coaching to anything that gave us a chance to win tonight.”

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor


Smith, Jr. Powers No. 5 Buckeyes Past Hoosiers 80-63

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Lenzelle Smith Jr. more than doubled his career high with 28 on Sunday to lead No. 5 Ohio State to a surprisingly easy 80-63 victory over seventh-ranked Indiana.

Jared Sullinger added 16 points, William Buford scored 12 and Deshaun Thomas had 11 for the Buckeyes (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten), who were coming off a loss at Illinois on Tuesday night. Several players questioned their teammates’ commitment and effort after that game.

There was no doubt about either on Sunday as Ohio State took command early and was never threatened.

Cody Zeller had 16 points, Christian Watford 13 and Jordan Hulls 11 for the Hoosiers (15-3, 3-3), who had lost at home to unranked Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Smith, who came in scoring about five points per game, erased almost every offensive high-water mark he had ever had in a game. He hit 10 of 12 shots from the field including 4 of 5 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.

The game was the first Indiana has played against another top 10 team since 2002 and the Hoosiers’ first visit to an opponent also ranked in single digits since 1992.

Earlier this week, Ohio State’s players vowed to pay back the Hoosiers for a 74-71 loss back on New Year’s Eve. In that game, the Buckeyes had 17 turnovers and 22 fouls. Sullinger got off just five shots from the field, Buford finished with eight points and Thomas scored just five points, due to foul trouble. In addition, point guard Aaron Craft had a career-high six turnovers.

Smith’s previous career best was 12 in that game. He had surpassed that with almost 3 minutes left in the opening half on Sunday.

The Buckeyes had the game well in hand throughout the second half after finishing the half on a 15-2 run. Yet they energized a raucous capacity crowd of 18,809 at Value City Arena with several plays in the final 20 minutes.

Sullinger wrestled the ball away from a driving Hulls and tossed an outlet pass while lying on the floor – Smith threw down a thunderous dunk at the other end to make it 47-23 with 15:23 left.

The lead never fell below 16 after halftime.

Smith had 18 at the break while hitting 7 of 9 shots from the field including 4 of 5 from behind the arc. To put that into perspective, he had never had more than four field goals in a game and had never made more than three 3-pointers.

After Indiana picked up the first points on a jumper by Hulls, the Buckeyes ran off the next seven and never trailed again. Buford, who had hit just 10 of 32 shots from the field in his last two games, made a jumper from the right corner and a 3 off an assist from Sullinger sandwiched around a Smith pull-up.

The Buckeyes had struggled while fighting heavy foul trouble in the first matchup. But they did not pick up their first foul until 10 minutes in this time.

The Hoosiers had difficulty against Ohio State’s defense and were unable to get the ball inside to Zeller or to make much of anything outside to relieve the pressure. They went almost 9 minutes without a point – missing all nine field-goal attempts with six turnovers – while the Buckeyes turned a 20-12 lead into a gaping 20-point advantage.

The win was Ohio State’s 36th in a row at home, the second-longest streak in program history.

Ohio State’s new football coach, Urban Meyer, and his staff received a loud and lengthy ovation when introduced at halftime.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor

Ohio State Travels to Illinois for Super Tuesday Clash with Illini

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No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (15-2, 3-1) at Illinois Fighting Illini (14-3, 3-1)
Site: Assembly Hall (16,618)
Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN
Talent: Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Dan Dakich (expert analysis)
Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (56 stations)
Satellite Radio: Sirius-91, XM-91
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (play-by-play), Ron Stokes (expert analysis)

Buford Reaches 100 Wins as a Buckeye
Senior William Buffordreached career win No. 100 as a Buckeye at Iowa Jan. 7. David Lighty (2007-11) holds the Ohio State record for wins with 129. Walk-ons Mark Titus and Danny Peters were part of Ohio State’s program for 110 victories over their careers (2007-10). The four-year record for victories by scholarship players was originally set by Jamar Butler and Matt Terwilliger from 2005-08 with 105. The 2009 team had 107 wins from 2006-09 but there were no four-year seniors on that squad.

Sullinger Named B1G Player of the Week
Sophomore Jared Sullinger was named the Big Ten Player of the Week Jan. 9 after averaging a double-double in wins over Nebraska and Iowa with 23.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds in Ohio State’s 71-40 win over Nebraska before pouring in 28 points, eight rebounds and four steals in the Buckeyes’ 76-47 road win at Iowa. This is Sullinger’s fifth career Player of the Week award and first this season.

Craft In Top 20 for Cousy Award
Sophomore Aaron Craft is among 20 candidates for the Bob Cousy Award after the list was trimmed from an initial pool of 60 candidates. The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in college basketball. This current list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 10 by Feb. 1 and final five by March 1. Craft currently leads the Buckeyes in assists (86) and steals (44).

Defense Clicks in last two outings
Ohio State’s last two opponents have both recorded more turnovers than field goals. Against Nebraska Jan. 3, Ohio State forced 17 turnovers while the Cornhuskers scored 16 field goals. In the win at Iowa, the Buckeyes had a hand in 20 Hawkeye miscues while Iowa managed 17 made field goals. For the week, Ohio State forced 37 turnovers while opponents tallied 33 field goals. The Buckeyes connected on 53 percent of their shots (63-120) while foes scored at a 31 percent clip (33-105). The Buckeyes recorded 85 rebounds while opponents grabbed 52. The Buckeyes’ average margin of victory last week was 30 points (73.5-43.5). Since Thad Matta took over the program in 2004-05, Ohio State teams have forced 24 opponents into more turnovers than it scored. Four times the Buckeyes have done so against Big Ten foes, once vs. Michigan in 2009 (21 TOs/15 FGs), twice vs. Iowa (23/22 in 2011 and 20/17 2012) and vs. Nebraska (17/16 in 2012).

The Buckeyes in the Big Ten
The Buckeyes rank No. 2 in both scoring offense (78.0 ppg.) and scoring defense (54.9 ppg.) after a 15-2 overall start. Ohio State’s scoring margin of 23.1 ppg. leads the league while the .496 field goal shooting percentage rates in the No. 2 spot. Led by Jared Sullinger, Ohio State is among the Top 2 teams in rebounding offense (37.9 rpg., No. 2) and rebounding defense (29.1 rpg., No. 1). Overall, the Buckeyes are No. 2 in rebound margin (+8.8 rpg.). Behind Aaron Craft, Ohio State is the leader in assists (17.4 apg.) and turnover margin (+6.4) on the year among Big Ten teams. The Buckeyes also have the highest attendance in the league with 15,642 attending on average this season.

100 Years in Big Ten
Ohio State celebrates 100 years as a member of the Big Ten Conference in men’s basketball in 2012. The Buckeyes finished in the No. 6 spot in the 1913 conference standings, the first season of league play. Over the 99 previous seasons, Ohio State has earned 19 Big Ten regular-season titles with 23 NCAA tournament appearances, one national championship (1960) and nine trips to the Final Four. Eight former coaches and players are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame while nearly 50 student-athletes have been drafted by National Basketball Association teams, including 22 in the first round.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor


Buckeye Basketball Post-Game Notes

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)– Jared Sullinger had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 6 Ohio State shook off its most recent loss with a 71-40 victory over Nebraska on Tuesday night.

The Buckeyes (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had little difficulty in their first game since a painful 74-70 defeat at No. 13 Indiana on Saturday. In that loss, the Buckeyes had 17 turnovers and committed 22 fouls.

Deshaun Thomas added 15 points and William Bufford had 13 for the Buckeyes, who won their 35th consecutive home game.

Toney McCray had 13 points and Bo Spencer 10 for Nebraska (8-6, 0-3), which was playing its first Big Ten road game.

The Cornhuskers were outrebounded 44-21 and had more turnovers (17) than field goals (16).

Spencer came in leading the Cornhuskers in scoring at 15.1 points a game (24.3 in three road games). But he, like the rest of his teammates, never came close to competing with the Buckeyes.

To put things into perspective, one of the biggest cheers of the night came when the fans recognized new Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer sitting high in a private booth. He received a lengthy ovation.

Nebraska was without two of its top scorers for the fifth consecutive game: 6-11 Jorge Brian Diaz is out with chronic foot soreness, and junior-college transfer Dylan Talley has been sidelined by a thigh injury.

The Cornhuskers have had the most difficult early-season schedule in the Big Ten, with home games against No. 11 Wisconsin (a 64-40 loss) and No. 16 Michigan State (a 68-55 defeat) before coming to No. 6 Ohio State. Those are also the top three teams in the preseason Big Ten poll.

Already up big at the break, Ohio State flexed its muscles in the opening minutes of the second half before coach Thad Matta emptied his bench.

In the opening 2 minutes, Sullinger was fouled while releasing a 15-foot baseline jumper – and it went in. Thomas also was fouled while tossing up a spinning, over-the-head bank shot that also found the bottom of the net. The lead hovered around 30 for most of the half.

The Cornhuskers got out to a miserable start. From a 4-all tie, Ohio State ran off the next 13 points while Nebraska was continually turning the ball over. During one span, the Huskers had turnovers on four consecutive possessions.

Five players scored in the 13-0 run for the Buckeyes, with Buford hitting two baskets and Lenzelle Smith Jr. adding a 3-pointer.

McCray, who had nine points in the half, scored on a drive to cut the gap to 28-15 at the 5:09 mark, but Ohio State took off again with a 16-5 run to close the half. After an inbound play broke down in the closing seconds, the pass went to Sullinger, who poured in a 3 for a 44-20 halftime lead.

The Buckeyes improved to 5-2 all-time against Nebraska. Their last meeting was an 85-74 Buckeyes victory in St. John Arena in the 1989 National Invitation Tournament. Then-freshman Chris Jent, now an Ohio State assistant, started that game and had four points and five assists.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor®