March 10, 2012
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 semifinal on Saturday.
The Buckeyes shot 49 percent from the field to earn a shot at their third straight Big Ten tournament title.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., led No. 2 seed Michigan with 13 points, but he made just 3 of 10 shots. Trey Burke, Michigan's other star player, scored five points on 1-for-11 shooting and had eight turnovers
The Wolverines (24-9) shot 31 percent from the field, made just 4 of 25 3-pointers and committed 18 turnovers in one of their worst offensive performances of the season.
Ohio State and Michigan, better known for their football rivalry, have ramped up the one on the hardwood in recent years, too. The teams met the previous two years in the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State won 68-61 last year in the semifinals. Evan Turner's 37-foot jumper as time expired gave the Buckeyes a 69-68 quarterfinal win in 2010.
This year, Ohio State and Michigan split their games during the regular season, and the teams shared the league's regular-season title with Michigan State, setting up expectations for a competitive game on Saturday.
That never materialized. Sullinger scored the first six points for Ohio State, and Michigan looked helpless against him from the start. The Buckeyes extended their lead to 16-3 as Michigan missed nine of its first 10 shots.
Michigan couldn't find anyone to match up with Sullinger. At one point, Hardaway drew the much bigger and stronger Sullinger, and Sullinger got an easy putback basket.
Sullinger finished the first half with 16 points, and the Buckeyes led 34-21 at the break. Ohio State shot 52 percent in the first half and held the Wolverines to 26 percent shooting. Hardaway and Burke combined for six points on 1-for-9 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
The Buckeyes continued the onslaught in the second half. Thomas scored in the paint to extend the lead to 41-24, Aaron Craft's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 20 points four minutes into the second half, and Ohio State remained comfortably ahead from there.