Ohio State Routes Minnesota for Tournament Championship
For the No. 5 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, it was the perfect way to end the regular season heading into the NCAA Tournament…a blowout victory on their way to becoming the first school to win three Big Ten tournament titles.
Leading by just three points at halftime, the Buckeyes opened the second half with an 8-0 run and outscored the Gophers 57-31 in the final 20 minutes cruising to a 90-61 victory. The 29-point victory is the largest in a Big Ten tournament championship game and the largest in any conference championship game this year.
As a team, Ohio State was lights out shooting a tremendous 57.6 percent (34-59) from the field including 54.5 (12-22) from beyond-the-arc.
Once again, Big Ten Player of the Year, Evan Turner, stuffed the stat sheet with yet another monster game.
Turner scored 22 of his game-high 31 points in the second half and also had 11 rebounds and six assists on the way to being named the tournament's most outstanding player. It was his second straight game with 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and five-plus assists.
As has been case the entire season, Turner’s heroics often overshadow his supporting cast, which always seems to be as consistent as a Turner himself.
David Lighty, the team’s spark plug, tallied 20 points and ripped down seven rebounds.
Jon Diebler, the team’s 3-point marksman, poured in 19 points while draining five triples.
William Buford, the team’s second leading scorer, contributed 13 points.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about this group is their mental toughness.
The Buckeyes starting five nearly plays every minute of every game, and after grueling battles in their first two tournament games, they came back with a blowout victory in their third straight game in as many days.
You would think after barely escaping on a buzzer shot and fighting through a double overtime win that the Buckeyes wouldn’t have much left in the tank for the second half of Sunday’s ballgame, but they blew out the Golden Gophers down the stretch.
Many have questioned Ohio State’s depth all season but few can argue their guts and determination. They will need both those as they head into the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State received a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional and will play Cal-Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday in Milwaukee.
By Nick Adams BigTen-fans.com Ohio State Correspondent