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

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