2012 Ohio State Basketball
Buckeyes Hold Off Pesky Wildcats
In the past, the Ohio State Buckeyes could look at their schedule and pencil in wins against the Northwestern Wildcats. However, this season has been a different story as the Wildcats are clawing their way towards their first -ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
An upset victory against the 11th ranked Buckeyes on Wednesday would put the Wildcats in prime position to make history.
Northwestern battled back from a 13-point deficit but Jared Sullinger's bucket with 3.1 seconds remaining gave the Buckeyes a 75-73 victory.
"(Aaron) Craft threw a perfect pass to me and led me right to the angle of the backboard. He let me turn over my left shoulder and finish with my right hook. The bread and butter," said Sullinger, who came up big for the Buckeyes, leading them with 22 points to go along with 18 rebounds.
"Craft told me he was going to throw it to me. No ifs, ands or buts about it, he said. He threw it to me and I made the shot."
Sullinger's game-winner came after Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio tied the game on a 3-pointer with 7.7 seconds left to cap off a late 8-0 run by the Wildcats.
Following a Buckeyes timeout, Craft did as he promised and got the ball to the Buckeyes big man.
"It was just get the ball to Jared and let him make a play. That's how we drew it up and I'm glad we were able to execute," Craft explained.
Northwestern still had a shot after Sullinger's basket as John Shurna came down court and threw up a long desperation shot that hit the front of the rim at the buzzer. Shurna expressed his disappointment after the game.
"Disappointment. Kind of a tough way to go out," said Shurna, the leading scorer in Northwestern history who finished with 22 points in his regular-season home finale at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Shurna continued, "Thought it had a chance. Put it up there and hope for the best. ... That's all you can do."
Deshaun Thomas added 19 points and 10 rebounds while Craft chipped in 14 points including four 3-pointers for the Buckeyes.
Drew Crawford scored 23 points for the Wildcats (17-12, 7-10), who have one regular-season game left, looking to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive as they travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State (24-6, 12-5), which had lost three of five, still has a chance to tie for the Big Ten title if it can win at No. 5 Michigan State in Sunday's regular season finale. The Spartans already have at least a share of the championship, despite losing to Indiana on Tuesday night.
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!