Motivated after a heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in last year's tournament, the Ohio State Buckeyes are officially headed to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans. The Buckeyes outlasted a deep, talented Syracuse team on Saturday for a 77-70 win, advancing and setting the stage for a semifinal match up with either Kansas or North Carolina next weekend.
As some expected, the Buckeyes fully dominated the rebounding battle, topping Syracuse 13 to 6 on the offensive glass, and 37 to 22 overall. Athletic wings Deshaun Thomas and William Buford each set the pace for Ohio State with nine rebounds apiece, in a game where not a single Syracuse starter grabbed more than three all night.
Despite producing only four points in the opening half, Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger came alive after the break, and feasted on a Fab Melo-less Syracuse interior defense. Sullinger's 19-point, seven rebound performance was made all the more impressive by his consistent 9-for-12 shooting day from the charity stripe. Highlights of Sullinger's huge second half below:
The Buckeyes, headed to their first Final Four since the Greg Oden-led team of 2007, will now wait anxiously to see who they will play next weekend in New Orleans.
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