Found March 11, 2012 on Fox Sports Ohio:
INDIANAPOLIS - The Jared Sullinger you saw Sunday was gassed. The Jared Sullinger you saw all weekend at the Big Ten Tournament is the player Sullinger is capable of being. He's the player who can push the Buckeyes all the way through the NCAA Tournament, too. A classic Big Ten Tournament title game Sunday didn't go the Buckeyes way down the stretch, and Michigan State certainly earned the right to be remembered as the best team in the nation's best conference this year. But Ohio State is playing well again, has shaken off whatever caused that rut of a month ago and should feel good about its chances going forward. We still don't know if the Buckeyes can make enough outside shots to get to the Final Four, but with Sullinger playing aggressively and assertively as he has over the last two weeks, it's a very real possibility. Sullinger admitted a few weeks ago that he was distracted by outside criticism of his play and affected by the way games were being officiated. His body language was especially bad in an early February home loss to Michigan State, a game in which he was charged with 10 turnovers as a quick defense used multiple defenders to beat him to spots and Sullingers teammates offered little help in the way of making outside shots. Going all the way back to a couple of minor injuries that forced him to miss some time in December, the usually ultra-consistent Sullinger was hit and miss for much of the season. He's locked in now, and with the way Deshaun Thomas has played over the last several weeks the Buckeyes have a post game that only a few other teams in the NCAA Tournament field can match. Sullinger has shown off more of an outside game, too, and he's needed to on a team that struggles to score from the perimeter. Sullinger made the Buckyes' first 3-pointer of the game Sunday as part of an early second-half Buckeyes run. Ohio State was of 0-of-6 on 3-point tries in the first half. Brandon Wood of Michigan State made the most -- and most important -- 3-pointers Sunday afternoon, and Michigan State held on for a 68-64 win. Ohio State took a seven-point lead in the second half before Wood sparked a 10-0 run that proved to be the clincher. "We are playing well," Sullinger said after Sunday's game. "We didn't execute in this game and we didn't play to our capabilities. "Fortunately, we have another day of practice. Now, it's one and done." Sullinger is averaging 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the season, almost identical numbers to the ones he posted last year, when he was the National Freshman of the Year and the clear MVP on the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed. He had 30 points and 12 rebounds in Friday night's quarterfinal win over Purdue. He scored 24 and had 6 rebounds in Saturday's semifinal win over Michigan. More important than the numbers, though, was his energy level at both ends and the way the Buckeyes spaced the floor and emphasized throwing it to Sullinger in the post. "Jared probably had this three best pracitces of the year last week and I knew he was going to come in this weekend and play well," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "We need to continue to get him rested, get his body taken care of. That's the hard part of playing three games in three days here. And you could be playing in four days here again, so we'll make sure he gets his rest." Sullinger missed a few shots he normally doesn't Sunday -- chalk that up to fatigue and pretty good Michigan State defense -- but finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds. He was held to nine first-half minutes due to foul trouble and shot just 7-of-19 for the game. For the second straight year, the NCAA Tournament's top storyline involves a game-changing freshman post player and his quest to lead his team to trophy. Anthony Davis of Kentucky might be better than Sullinger was last year -- Davis should be the National Player of the Year -- and he might be the kind of athletic shot-blocker who ultimately wins a battle with Sullinger. "The main goal is to win a national championship," Sullinger said. "We're focused on that. One game at a time." Ohio State looks like a team that's capable of reaching that point and eventually finding that out. It's a different Buckeye team than last year's senior-laden group that lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. It's still a team that's going to follow Sullinger, and it's a team with a real chance to reach New Orleans.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Michigan Basketball: Wolverines pounded by Ohio State, 77-55

The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes squared off for the 3rd time this year for the right to play the Michigan State Spartans in the Big 10 Tournament final on Sunday. A game that was hyped to be a score-settling dog fight turned into a one-sided blood bath as the Buckeyes put it on Michigan early and often to the tune of a 77-55 final score. Jordan Morgan Trey Burke,...

Ohio State Basketball: Buckeyes’ Tourney Draw a Mixed Bag

The good news is that Ohio State won’t need to go through Kentucky to make the Final Four.  The bad news is that the Buckeyes got a draw that could be almost as difficult. After a frustrating loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament Final, Ohio State lost its shot at a 1-seed; a win would have likely set up the team as the West Region’s top seed.  Instead that position...

Sullinger leads Ohio State past Purdue in Big 10

Jared Sullinger came up big for Ohio State. While Purdue couldn't get the ball to Robbie Hummel. Sullinger had a season-high 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help No. 7 Ohio State beat Purdue 88-71 on Friday night in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. Hummel, Purdue's top scorer, finished with six points on 2-for-8 shooting while dealing with defenders Deshaun Thomas...

No. 7 Ohio St. 88, Purdue 71

Jared Sullinger had a season-high 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help No. 7 Ohio State beat Purdue 88-71 on Friday night in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. Deshaun Thomas had 22 points and seven rebounds, and William Buford scored nine of his 11 points in the second half for the third-seeded Buckeyes (26-6). Ohio State shot 61 percent to post its second-best scoring...

Ohio State Crushes Michigan In Semifinal

Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas combined for 46 points as Ohio State dominated a Big Ten tournament semifinal contest against Michigan on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis. The third-seeded Buckeyes never trailed en route to a 77-55 win over No. 2 seed Michigan.

U-M hits wall in B1G Semis, 55-77 to OSU

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help No. 7 Ohio State defeat Michigan (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) 77-55 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

Buckeyes shellac That Team Up North

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Jared Sullinger #0, Evan Ravenel #30 and Deshaun Thomas #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate on the bench against the Michigan Wolverines during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Sophomore...

Michigan falls to Ohio St in Big Ten tourney

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help No. 7 Ohio State defeat No. 10 Michigan 77-55 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points and William Buford added 10 for the third-seeded Buckeyes (27-6), who advanced to play No. 8 Michigan State in the final on Sunday. Michigan State defeated No. 14 Wisconsin 65-52 in the other...

No. 7 Ohio St beats No. 10 Michigan 77-55

Michigan is heading to NCAA tournament. The Wolverines will try to leave their most lopsided loss of the season behind. Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help No. 7 Ohio State defeat No. 10 Michigan 77-55 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. The Wolverines (24-9) shot 31 percent from the field, made 4 of 25 3-pointers and committed 18 turnovers in one of their worst...

Ohio State needs to play more than just 6 or 7 guys

In 2010, Ohio State won the Big Ten, the Big Ten Tournament and had a #2 seedin the NCAA Tournament. They were loaded with talent yet they only played 6-7 guys regularly, and were overly reliant on National Player of the Year Evan Turner. They were upset by Tennessee in the sweet sixteen. Last year, the Buckeyes were the tournament’s #1 overall seed, again loaded and deep, yet...

Buckeyes’ Interior Duo Overpower Purdue, Lead Bucks to Big Ten Semis

It’s a beautiful thing. For weeks, I’ve been writing, tweeting, and talking to anyone who will listen about how the Buckeyes need to focus on their interior game to become more productive on the offensive end. Last night, they did just that against the Purdue Boilermakers. Jared Sullinger posted a season-high 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting, while Deshaun Thomas added 22 points...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.