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Friday, March 10, 2006

Big Ten roundup: Ohio State gets scare; Indiana stays hot

Big Ten roundup: Ohio State gets scare; Indiana stays hot
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Penn State's zone defense gave Ohio State a lot more to worry about than its three-year NCAA probation.
David Jackson and the Penn State defense got in the way of J.J. Sullinger and Ohio State for most of their game. David Jackson and the Penn State defense got in the way of J.J. Sullinger and Ohio State for most of their game.

By Michael Conroy, AP

Ron Lewis scored 17 points and the No. 7 Buckeyes, who missed 11 of their first 13 shots, needed a flurry of three-point baskets in the second half to rally past the Nittany Lions 63-56 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. (Related item: Game report )

Ohio State, the tourney's top seed, found out shortly before the game about the penalties, which ended a lengthy NCAA investigation but will not affect their eligibility for the postseason.

"When we heard it this morning before the game, we were happy," Lewis said. "The coach told us in the locker room when we got here that there wasn't going to be anything in the NCAA tournament against us."

Lewis said the players didn't focus on the penalties for violations that occurred under former coach Jim O'Brien before any of the current players were on the team.

"We really wanted just to keep playing hard and keep playing as a team," he said. "We knew everything was going to play out how it played out, but we weren't going to slack because of some rule that somehow went against us."

The victory sent the Buckeyes into Saturday's semifinals against Indiana.

Ohio State (24-4) never led until there were less than six minutes to go, when a three-pointer by Jamar Butler put the Buckeyes up 50-49. Ohio State had seven three-pointers? including two by Lewis and two by Matt Sylvester — during a 28-11 run that erased a 42-30 lead by the eighth-seeded Nittany Lions (15-14).

Two free throws by Je'Kel Foster sealed the game with 24 seconds to go.

Terence Dials, the Big Ten player of the year, added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Buckeyes. Penn State was led by Jamelle Cornley, who had 18 points, and Geary Claxton and Travis Parker, who had 12 each.

"It's kind of a relief, from the standpoint of the media," Dials said of the NCAA ruling. "We were playing with the mind-set that we were going to the postseason anyway. That's what we were preparing for. ... I would have been really shocked if they would have said we couldn't go (to the NCAA tournament)."

Shortly before the game, the NCAA announced Ohio State had been put on three years' probation and had its records expunged from four NCAA basketball tournament appearances? including the 1999 Final Four. The university will have to repay almost $800,000 in tournament revenues from 1999-2002 because of the ineligibility of former player Boban Savovic.

Penn State used the same zone defense that worked Thursday in a first-round victory over Northwestern, forcing the Buckeyes to shoot from the outside.

Ohio State missed its first six shots and 11 of its first 13 against the Lions' zone. The Buckeyes went the first 6.50 minutes without a field goal and fell behind 7-0 and 13-5 before a spinning layup by J.J. Sullinger started a 10-2 run that brought them back into the game.

"We really had to step up and challenge our guys," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "In the second half, we were able to hit some shots against the zone, and that opened things up for us."

The Buckeyes were 10-of-30 from long range, with eight of the three-pointers in the second half.

Penn State had a 27-24 lead at halftime, and Ohio State missed its first eight shots of the second half as the Lions slowly widened their lead.

A dunk by Claxton, a basket by Cornley and a three-pointer by Mike Walker gave Penn State its biggest lead at 42-30 before a three-pointer by Lewis started Ohio State's comeback.

"It looked better because the ball went into the basket," Matta said of the difference in the second half. "They were the exact same shots. ... And our defensive intensity got so much better."

Penn State, which upset top-seeded Ohio State in the first round six years ago, was hoping to pull off another shocker.

"For 35 minutes, we were in good shape," coach Ed DeChellis said.

"We made a very good run at this thing, but it just didn't happen for us. ... We had our opportunities but didn't make some critical shots when we needed to."

Indiana moves into Big Ten semifinals

INDIANAPOLIS — Marco Killingsworth and Marshall Strickland dominated the second half Friday, combining for 28 points, as Indiana held off Wisconsin 61-56 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

It was the Hoosiers' fifth straight win since coach Mike Davis announced his resignation last month. Killingsworth scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half, while Strickland added 14 of his 16 points in the final 20 minutes. Killingsworth finished with 12 rebounds. (Related item: Game report )

Indiana (18-10) also solidified its hopes for an NCAA tournament bid by reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2003. It now faces No. 7 Ohio State, after the top seed survived a scare from Penn State 63-56.

Fourth-seeded Wisconsin (19-11) was led by Alando Tucker with 20 points and eight rebounds. Brian Butch added 12 points, and freshman Kevin Gullikson scored all 10 of his points in the first half.

It's the first time in three years the Badgers have not played for the tournament title, and they must now wait until the postseason to try for their fourth straight 20-win season.

Indiana, the fifth seed, rallied after another dreadful first half. It shot 31.8% from the field, endured a 9:18 scoring drought, was 1-of-10 on three-pointers and scored a season-low 15 points.

But the Hoosiers trailed only 19-15 at halftime, primarily because Wisconsin shot 25% from the field and Tucker was limited to nine minutes because of foul trouble.

In the second half, the Hoosiers were much more proficient. They quickly tied the score twice, at 19 and 21, retook the lead when Marco Killingsworth posted up for a layup with 17:41 left and needed less than five minutes to match their first-half scoring total. By then, the Hoosiers led 30-24.

Indiana extended the lead to as much as nine points twice, but the Badgers countered with a 9-1 run midway through the second half to retake a 46-45 lead. After Michael Flowers' driving layup gave Wisconsin a 49-48 lead with 6:48 left, the Hoosiers scored seven straight points to make it 55-49 and never trailed again.

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