MBB : Sullinger dominates inside in 2nd half to lead Buckeyes to win over Orange

MBB : Sullinger dominates inside in 2nd half to lead Buckeyes to win over Orange

first_img Comments Published on March 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr BOSTON – For nearly 14 minutes, Jared Sullinger observed.He watched Syracuse and Ohio State go toe-to-toe. He saw the Buckeyes keep the game tied going into the locker room despite his relegation to the bench with two fouls.No longer saddled to a chair to start the second half, Sullinger exploded.‘When you were guarding a big body like Sullinger’s it was tough for anyone to do something,’ Syracuse forward Kris Joseph said. ‘Either he’s going to get fouled or he’ll have a chance to score two points.’Sullinger scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in his six minutes of first-half action, he but came out re-energized for the final 20 minutes. He led the Buckeyes with 19 points, 15 in the second half of Ohio State’s 77-70 win over Syracuse in the Elite Eight in the TD Garden on Saturday. The sophomore All-American, an East Regional MVP, was the difference in the second half, as he bodied the lighter Syracuse center Baye Keita and forward Rakeem Christmas and, at times, scored at will.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis production was made useful by his teammates’ ability to play without him.‘I didn’t know coach (Thad) Matta was going to sit me,’ Sullinger said. ‘But these guys have played without me before, so they know what they have to do. We just kept competing on the defensive end.’Sullinger’s night had an inauspicious beginning as he picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes. He knocked Joseph back in the paint, leading to an offensive foul. Four minutes later, he fouled Dion Waiters as the Syracuse guard drove to the hoop.He took a seat on the bench with 13:42 to go and didn’t return until the start of the second half.But the new half presented a different story.Lenzelle Smith Jr. fed Sullinger inside. He bowled over Keita as he went to the hoop, making a layup, and then he leapt over the Syracuse sophomore as he jogged down the court.On Ohio State’s next possession, he received a pass on the right side and drove into Joseph. Sullinger threw up a long one-handed shot that banked home to put the Buckeyes ahead 45-36.‘He’s a guy who shoots a high percentage and who’s been making those type of shots his whole career,’ Joseph said.Entering Saturday’s matchup, Sullinger appeared to have a big advantage against the Orange without Fab Melo. Sullinger weighs in at 280 pounds, giving him more than 50 pounds on the 228-pound Christmas and 215-pound Keita.Had Melo, at 7 feet, 255 pounds, been on the court, the game could have been different. But C.J. Fair tried not to speculate on what could have been.‘You could say that as an excuse, but we should have still won this game,’ Fair said. ‘It’s hard to say what would happen if Fab was here, you never know. But it is hard losing your best defender and it’s hard. Can’t really imagine what would have happened if he was here.’When Syracuse pulled within 55-54, the second of two times in which SU got within one late in the game, Ohio State went back to its star. He banked home a one-handed shot over Keita to push the lead back to three.He also was the beneficiary of calls in the second half, getting both bigs for the Orange into foul trouble. Christmas went from two to four fouls in 39 seconds early in the second half, one of the fouls being against Sullinger. Keita went from two to four fouls in a 30-second span with less than five minutes to go, picking up both of them while trying to defend Sullinger.‘They hung in there against him,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘He’s going to score. We know he’s going to score some points. I thought they really battled him pretty good.’After the win, Sullinger met Smith at the 3-point line and they hugged. He then walked down the court to the Ohio State bench, arms raised in celebration.He could have been a lottery pick in last year’s NBA Draft, but he elected to return to OSU for his sophomore season after the Buckeyes’ bitter end in the Sweet 16 last season.His second half – one in which he didn’t pick up his third foul until there were 37 seconds left – allowed Ohio State to avoid another difficult end to the season.‘I appreciated everyone that doubted this basketball team, said we was the underdogs,’ Sullinger said. ‘… I want to thank y’all because through all the adversity, we constantly pushed through that. I’m so proud of these guys.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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