OSU defeats South Carolina

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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 12/17/2011 4:52 PM
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Men's Basketball
OSU defeats South Carolina, suffers another Sullinger setback
By Ben Axelrod

The Ohio State men’s basketball team (10-1) walked away from its match-up against South Carolina (4-6) with a 74-66 win on Saturday, but the Buckeyes may have lost more than they gained during their trip to Columbia.

Jared Sullinger
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jared Sullinger

Playing in just his second game since he suffered back spasms against Duke on Nov. 29, OSU sophomore Jared Sullinger was kicked in his left foot during the opening minutes of the Buckeyes battle with the Gamecocks. By the end of the game, the preseason All-American was in street clothes and holding crutches on the end of the OSU bench.

After leaving the game at the 16:37 mark of the first half following the initial injury, Sullinger attempted to re-enter the game four minutes later, but he could only tolerate the pain for three minutes before he limped off the court and towards the OSU locker room.

X-Rays on Sullinger’s foot came back negative and showed no fracture. On his postgame radio show OSU Head Coach Thad Matta described the injury as a bone bruise.

With Sullinger’s return in doubt throughout the first half, the Buckeyes looked like a team that was more worried about its injured star player than it was with South Carolina. The Gamecocks took advantage, closing the half on an 11-3 run to take a 33-29 lead into intermission.

Deshaun Thomas
Photo by Jim Davidson
Deshaun Thomas

OSU’s Deshaun Thomas missed a 3-point shot to open the second half, but that would be the last field goal that he’d miss for the remainder of the game. The sophomore forward carried the Buckeyes’ offense with a career-high 30 points on an efficient 13-of-16 shooting. Thomas scored eight straight OSU points midway through the second half during a stretch that saw the Buckeyes extend their lead from four points to nine.

The Indiana-native also picked up some of rebounding responsibility left by Sullinger’s absence. He pulled down six rebounds, as did guard guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who led the the team with nine boards. Following a rough stretch of missed shots to close the first half, it was Smith’s 3-point shot with 15:37 left in the game that gave the Buckeyes the final lead of the game.

After losing 79-57 to the Buckeyes a year ago in Columbus, USC showed a much better effort in front of its home crowd this year. The Gamecocks never let OSU’s second half lead get out of reach and were paced by senior Malik Cooke’s 21 points.

In the end, however, Thomas’ 30 points along with 17 from senior guard William Buford proved to be too much for USC to handle. OSU will continue to rely on the duo of Thomas and Buford should Sullinger miss extended time with his latest injury.

The Buckeyes return to action on Tuesday when they’ll host Lamar at 8:30 p.m.

Box Score
Season Stats Year to Date

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