Coming into last night’s matchup in Evanston, the feeling was undeniable that the game, the February crossroads that the Buckeyes were at, the must-win game, hinged upon Jared Sullinger’s broad shoulders. Essentially called out by Coach Thad Matta, coming off an inexplicably aloof performance at home against Wisconsin on Sunday, it was up to #0 to right the ship. That proved to be precisely the case with Sullinger who turned in one of his strongest performances all year and scored the game-winner over a pair of Wildcats with 3.1 seconds remaining to allow the Buckeyes to escape with a 75-73 victory that kept their Big Ten title hopes alive.
Northwestern’s lack of size allowed the Buckeyes to get the ball into the post much easier than they have against top tier opponents in the second half of the conference schedule. Wildcat forward John Shurna covered Sullinger for a good portion of the game, and Sullinger was able to snag every defensive rebound within reach in addition to dominating the offensive glass. Instead of being pushed up the block, Sullinger received the ball on the block and in the middle of the paint, often without even a forearm in his back as is customary. Sully led the team in scoring with 22, adding a season-high 18 rebounds with 11 of those coming on the offensive boards. The Buckeyes as a team dominated the worst rebounding team in the Big Ten on the boards 44-18. [Read more...]