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Last updated: 03/25/2012 0:54 AM

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Men's Basketball
Two-Minute Drill: Inside Ohio State’s Postgame Locker Room
By Brandon Castel

BOSTON — The Buckeyes have not yet reached their ultimate goal, but they were able to do a little celebrating Saturday as they punched their ticket to the Final Four.

Jared Sullinger scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes as Ohio State held off No. 1-seed Syracuse to advance to New Orleans, and matchup with the winner of Sunday’s North Carolina-Kansas game.

Here’s a look at what the players and coaches had to say after the game.

Matta’s Best Coaching Job at OSU?

* Talked to OSU assistants Jeff Boals, Dave Dickerson and Greg Paulus after the game about Thad Matta. All three called this his best coaching job.

* Boals said the 2007-08 team was the hardest one to coach for Thad, but what he did with this team was more impressive.

* Dickerson said Matta always stayed positive, even when things were rocky. He came to practice every day determined to make it work.

* Dickerson also said after the loss to Wisconsin, Matta pulled the team together and had them get back to the fundamentals of half court defense.

* Dickerson said Matta's handicap has actually been a positive for this team. He shows up everyday and doesn't complain. How can anyone else?

* William Buford said Matta's patient style and hands-off approach really worked with this team.

Sullinger Tipping His Hand?

* Sullinger: "Amir always had talent. Unfortunately he's playing behind me and Evan, so next year, watch out."

* A writer tried to establish whether Sully will return (as he talked about Amir): "I ain't making no promises."

* Matta joked after the game that Sullinger will be even better his junior and senior years at OSU.

Turning Things Around

* Buford said there was a time early in the B1G season where he thought this team might come unraveled, but Thad wouldn't allow it.

* He knew this team had Final Four potential, but everything was going to have fall in place at the right time.

* Boals also admitted Jared was really off for a few weeks. Let the refs get in his head and stopped playing with energy and enthusiasm.

* Boals said the main thing they talked to him with was playing with more energy and being aggressive while having fun.

Off to the Final Four

* Buford said he was definitely going to enjoy this moment. He said "there's still more to play for, but this feels good."

* Aaron Craft said this was the first time he cut down the nets since his freshman year of high school. They lost in state semis that year.

* Paulus said Craft has really been an extension of the coaching staff this year, in practice and in games. Never takes a day off.

* Paulus also said that it was tough with so many young guys, but Craft and Sullinger are such winners. Rubbed off on everyone.

Player Notes

* Lenzelle Smith said he got 4 stitches in his head and that it hurt a lot after the game, but he was all smiles.

* Smith said he asked coach Matta for the challenge of guarding Dion Waiters today. Waiters finished 2-8 with 9 points and 5 fouls.

* Deshaun Thomas said the biggest thing he had to do this year was learn to trust his teammates.

* He said it took him half the year, but eventually he realized he was getting everything he wanted—minutes, points, wins—so why not trust them.


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