It looked like IUPUI was going to pull off the biggest stunner of the 2010-11 season. Then Jared Sullinger went to work.
Behind a freshman record 40 points, Sullinger and the Ohio State Buckeyes roared back from a nine-point second-half deficit to defeat IUPUI 75-64 Thursday night at Value City Arena.
Sullinger and William Buford, who scored 14 points, combined to score 54 of Ohio State’s 75 points. Sullinger added 13 rebounds. He was 12-of-17 from the field and an astounding 16-of-23 from the free throw line, also freshman records.
“I think IUPUI came in here and knocked us on our heels a little bit tonight,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “The disappointing thing is I don’t think in the first half we ever drew the line in the sand and said were going to make a stop. I don’t think we were challenging shots like we needed to. You just can’t let them score as many times as they did at the end of the shot clock.”
Sullinger’s 40-point scoring output was the first by an Ohio State player since Dennis Hopson scored 41 at Dayton in 1986. It was just the fourth time a Buckeye put up 40 points since 1964. He shattered Michael Redd’s previous single-game point total of 30.
After going into the half tied at 35, IUPUI came out hot in the second half, building a 45-39 lead. The lead would grow to 50-41. That’s when Sullinger took over and Ohio State closed the game on a 34-14 run.
“I thought down the stretch our guys did a pretty good job getting their shots and converting for us,” Matta said.
Jon Diebler made a three-point basket before Sullinger put back a dunk with authority to cut the lead to 50-46. The Jaguars missed again and Buford took the ball coast-to-coast to get the Buckeyes within two. Sullinger would tie it with two free throws before OSU took a 52-50 lead when he made another shot inside.
Ohio State would go on a 24-4 run with 14 points coming from Sullinger.
Matta didn’t go to his bench in the second half until less than a minute remained in the game.
IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter was impressed with Sullinger’s play and is happy to take a moral victory back to Indianapolis.
“We won’t see many guys like that in our league,” Hunter said. “He is good.”
Despite Sullinger’s performance, Matta will have plenty of things to harp on in practice the next couple days. The rusty and sloppy play in the first half will drive any coach crazy, especially the uber-intense Matta. The Buckeyes allowed IUPUI to shoot 52 percent in the first half (51 for the game) and 47 percent from behind the arc for the game.
“Like I told a lady at a coffee shop this week we’re 6-0 now but we’re going to play 30 games this season,” Matta said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
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Written by Kyle Rowland