Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Ohio State

OSU unleashes firepower


Ohio State senior Jon Diebler celebrates after the Buckeyes routed Wisconsin in his final home game. The Buckeyes avenged an earlier loss to Wisconsin by hitting a record 14-of-15 3-pointers.


COLUMBUS — With their opportunity to claim an outright Big Ten championship on their home floor swiped from them on the eve of the final game of the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes instead opted to send a message – a resounding shot that had to be heard across the nation.

The No. 1 ranked Buckeyes, who secured the regular season Big Ten title on Saturday when Purdue lost at Iowa, blasted No. 10 Wisconsin 93-65 Sunday with a record-setting shooting display. 

Senior Jon Diebler scored 27 points, hitting 7-of-8 from 3-point range . . .  and he was the only Buckeye to miss from outside the arc. Ohio State went 14-of-15 from long distance, and 32-of-47 from the field for 68.1 percent.

Diebler, who had 10 3-pointers in the previous game at Penn State and is 17-of-20 from outside the arc for the past two games, said Purdue’s unexpected loss took none of the importance from Sunday’s season finale. 

Had the Boilermakers won, Ohio State would have needed to defeat Wisconsin for an outright championship.

Instead, Ohio State won the league by two games, with a 16-2 Big Ten mark, and hoisted the conference trophy at center-court following the win over the Badgers.

“To be honest, that Purdue game really didn’t have an effect on our mood coming into this game,” Diebler said. “It was our senior day, and we didn’t want to lose on our home court.”

Thus motivated, Ohio State buried Wisconsin in a barrage of 3-pointers unlike anything Division I has seen before. Ohio State’s 14-of-15 from long range translated to a record 93.3 percent, while the Buckeyes’ run of 14 straight made 3-pointers was another record, snapping the previous mark of 11 straight.

“Our best day is 11-of-17, and we thought we hit the jackpot,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “But 14-of-15 – I don’t think people do that.”

The Badgers, who had handed then No. 1 ranked Ohio State its first defeat in mid-February in Madison, got the full wrath of the Buckeyes this time around, with Ohio State perched back in the top spot nationally.

Ohio State freshman forward Jared Sullinger had said he wanted to “beat them by 50.” The Buckeyes were up by nine when junior William Buford buried a jump shot with about eight minutes left in the first half.

The lead grew, and after Diebler beat the buzzer to end the half with a 3-pointer from way out front, Ohio State was up 47-32.

When Buford hit a 3-pointer in transition to open the second half, the blitz was on.

Diebler drilled one from the corner with around 12 minutes left to stretch the lead to 62-48, and then uncorked a bomb off the dribble at the midway mark of the second half to push it to 69-48.

“We know those guys can shoot,” a shell-shocked Ryan said.“The reason they didn’t have any offensive rebounds is they didn’t miss.” 

Ohio State (29-2) led by 20 or more for the final nine minutes of the game.

That allowed Matta to give Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale – his three senior starters – a boisterous curtain call in the game’s closing minutes.

“I don’t know if you could script it much better,” Matta said. “Shots were falling. It was incredible how well we moved the ball and shot the basketball . . .  I didn’t fear at all that there would be a letdown.”

Sullinger had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes, who open play as the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday in Indianapolis where they face the winner of Thursday’s Northwestern — Minnesota game.

Buford had 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Lighty added 13 points, while freshman point guard Aaron Craft excelled at the defensive end, limiting Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor to eight points after Taylor had exploded for 27 in the Badgers’ 71-67 win over the Buckeyes earlier this season.

Contact Matt Markey at:mmarkey@theblade.comor 419-724-6510. 

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