The surprising Penn State Nittany Lions stuck around for as long as they could, but the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes proved to be too much to handle in a 71-60 win for their third Big Ten Tournament Championship in the last five years.
William Buford led the way with 18 for the Buckeyes and Talor Battle paced the Nittany Lions with 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
By: Nick Grays
Penn State showed great team effort in the first half, but the second half is when the Buckeyes began to click on all cylinders and blow the Nittany Lions out of the water. Even with Battle going “Jimmer” and taking most of his team’s shots in the second half , they were outscored 42-37 by the Buckeyes who made three-after-three (4-of-8 in the second half) to open up a formidable lead.
Freshman Jared Sullinger won Big Ten Tournament MVP after recording his third double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. In his three games in Indianapolis, Sullinger accumulated 49 points and 42 rebounds.
Sullinger assured everyone that there’s one thing on the Buckeyes minds and that is winning.
“It’s one and done now, so you’ve just got to take it one game at a time and focus on your opponent. And at the same time you just want to win. I mean, everybody has a mentality of winning in this program,” said Sullinger.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Ed DeChellis and the Nittany Lions have to look at their experience in the Big Ten Tournament as a positive one. Their first-ever Big Ten Championship appearance most likely punched them a ticket to the Big Dance and it showed that they can go up-and-down with powerhouses such as Wisconsin, Michigan State and even the Buckeyes.
The senior Battle agreed in the post-game by admitting that there was definitely a lesson to be learned from the tough loss.
“Only positive about today’s loss is that we could see what to improve on. We’re playing well and this loss will help us in our next game,” said Battle.
Ohio State is a tough team for anyone to beat. Not only do the Buckeyes have only two losses, they enter the NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed and are the odds-on favorites to win the entire thing.
“In terms of our program, we’ve been there seven years now, and we’ve been a No. 1 seed twice and we’ve been a 2 seed twice, and to get the overall No. 1, I think it’s a great honor now. As I’ll tell those guys, when we get back to Columbus, it’s not only score a point for us or get a rebound for us, now you’ve got to go out and defend it,” said Buckeyes Head Coach Thad Matta after learning of the Buckeyes #1 overall seed.
What do you think about Ohio State and their chances in the Big Dance? Can Penn State be a dark-horse pick for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
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