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2011-12 Buckeyes Season Recap

 

 

The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team came into the 2011-12 campaign as the third ranked team in the nation, and within the first month of the season, they were backing up that ranking.

Led by sophomores Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes rattled off their first eight games including victories against Florida and Duke. This setup a matchup with the then No. 13th ranked Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.

The undefeated Buckeyes were without their leading scorer in Sullinger and lost their first game of the season. Little did the Buckeyes know that they would have a chance at revenge three months later in the Final Four.

Brutus FatheadOhio State finished the regular season in dramatic fashion. Senior William Buford made a high-arcing jumper from the top of the key with 1 second left, lifting the Buckeyes to a 72-70 win over the fifth-ranked Spartans to forge a three-way tie for the Big Ten championship.

In the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes and Spartans would square off again, this time with the Tournament Championship and possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line. This time it was the Spartans coming out on top with a 68-64 victory.

With the loss, the Buckeyes were given the second seed while the Spartans were awarded a No. 1 seeding in the NCAA Tournament

The seeding proved insignificant as the Buckeyes made the Final Four for the first time since 2006 while the Spartans lost to the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16.

As mentioned, the Buckeyes would get another shot at the Kansas Jayhawks, but this time they would be at full strength.

The rematch between Ohio State and Kansas was billed as "The Other Game" of the Final Four -- garnering much less pub than the Kentucky-Louisville blood feud that preceded it -- and started off looking like every bit the undercard.

The Buckeyes built an early 13-point lead and led 34-25 at the half and only a steal and layup before the buzzer prevented the Jayhawks from a season-low.

Things changed in the second half when Ohio State came out and promptly missed its first 10 shots from the field, while Deshaun Thomas -- the Ohio State big man in charge of shutting down Robinson -- headed to the bench with his third foul.

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Robinson then took over the game and ended up with a team-high 19 points as the Jayhawks came back to shock the Buckeyes, handing them a 64-62 loss to end their season. Ironically, Ohio State's first loss of the season came to the hands of the Jayhawks, as did their last.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Ohio State enjoyed a great season, ending with a 31-8 overall record, a Big Ten Co-Championship and a Final Four appearance.

After the conclusion of the season, sophomore standout Jared Sullinger announced that he would be leaving Columbus to enter in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Buckeyes will also lose guard William Buford to graduation.

Although those are two key loses, the Buckeyes will return juniors Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. Thomas was the Buckeyes second leading scorer and rebounder while Craft, the team's floor general, led the team in assists and steals.

With the return of three out of their five starters, and another solid recruiting class, head coach Thad Matta should have another chance at a Big Ten Championship and NCAA Tournament run next season.

By Nick Adams
BigTen-fans.com Ohio State Correspondent

 

 

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