Mission Accomplished: Buckeyes Win Tournament Title
By Brandon Castel
INDIANAPOLIS — The Buckeyes said they came to Indianapolis to win a championship, and they followed through on that Sunday with a 71-60 win over Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament title game.
Freshman Jared Sullinger scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Ohio State repeated as tournament champions by defeating Northwester, Michigan and Penn State over the course of the weekend.
Sullinger followed in the footsteps of former Buckeye Evan Turner, who won the Most Outstanding Player award in last year’s tournament. The Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten finished with 49 points and 42 rebounds in three games, becoming the first player ever to post three double-doubles in a single Big Ten tournament.
He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates William Buford and Jon Diebler, who combined for 32 points in Sunday’s win. Talor Battle had 24 points for the Nittany Lions (19-14), but he was just 9-of-20 shooting.
Much like the championship game against Minnesota last March, the first half of Sunday’s game looked like a sluggish battle between two teams that had battled through a long weekend of basketball. The game went back and forth with both teams missing shots before Diebler pulled up for an off-balance, step-back three at the buzzer to give Ohio State (32-2) a 29-23 lead at the half.
Sullinger quickly picked up his second foul early in the second half, but Diebler knocked down another three and the Buckeyes started to pull away. Buford hit a three from the wing to give them a 43-29 lead and then David Lighty found Aaron Craft for a wide-open three on the next possession.
The Buckeyes continued shooting threes early in the shot clock, and that allowed Penn State to get back in the game. Battle nailed a three to make it a 10-point game at 57-47, but the Nittany Lions has no answer for Sullinger at the other end.
Even when Lighty missed him on the alley-oop pass in transition, Sullinger gathered himself and went up for the two-handed dunk. He was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament after averaging over 16 points and 14 rebounds per game.
Buford led all Buckeyes on Sunday with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Diebler and Sullinger each scored 15, while Craft chipped in with nine and Lighty with eight. Dallas Lauderdale gave them solid minutes for the second straight day, and Ohio State locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The only question now is whether they will be the No. 1 overall seed. It is likely between Ohio State and Kansas, who knocked off Texas in the Big XII Championship game.
Game Play by Play
Big Ten Tournament Stats
Season Stats Year to Date
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