2011 Ohio State Basketball
Buckeyes Survive, Could Be Named No. 1
The eyes of the college basketball world were focused on Columbus Saturday.
A victory for the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes, on the heels of No. 1 Duke's 66-61 loss at Florida State on Wednesday night, and the Buckeyes (18-0, 5-0 Big Ten) could find themselves in the top spot in the rankings.
Victory was anything but easy for the Bucks as Penn State's Talor Battle's three-pointer with two seconds left came up short, and No. 2 Ohio State managed a 69-66 home win over the pesky Nittany Lions whom were looking to knock off their third straight ranked opponent after beating Michigan State and Illinois in their previous two games.
On a senior-laden team, it was two freshmen who stepped up and carried the Buckeyes in arguably their biggest game of the season to date.
Rookies Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger each scored a team-high 19 points and provided clutch plays as both teams went back-and-forth for the final three minutes.
William Buford, who contributed 13 points, hit a clutch three-ball to put the Buckeyes up 63-61 with 2:38 remaining.
A capacity Value City Arena crowd booed with 1:12 left when Battle, isolated on Craft, drove the lane and lost his footing but benefited from a questionable call against Craft. Battle calmly knocked down both free-throws to tie the game at 63.
The Buckeyes went back inside to Sullinger on the ensuing possession, with the big guy hitting a half hook while being fouled. The Frosh then completed the three-point play giving OSU a 66-63 lead.
But the Nittany Lions would not go away as Battle's 3-point attempt from the left wing fell short, but David Jackson, who finished with 19 points, got the rebound and put it back in while being fouled. Johnson's free throw with 43.2 seconds to go knotted things once again.
Ohio State worked the ball patiently around the perimeter, twice throwing it into Sullinger on the low block with him tossing it back once to repost.
Sullinger got the low post position he wanted and rumbled across the middle of the lane. Similar to his shot just seconds earlier, Sullinger flipped up a shot that fell while a foul was called. He again hit the foul shot for the go-ahead points with 13.2 seconds left. Battle's aforementioned missed triple at the buzzer concluded the highly entertaining Big Ten battle.
The Big Ten battles continue for the Buckeyes this coming Wednesday as they host the Iowa Hawkeyes.
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