NCAA: Buckeyes Head to 11th Final Four
The Ohio State Buckeyes are headed to their 11th NCAA Final Four, and first since 2007, after knocking off No. 1 seed Syracuse, 77-70.
Ohio State started the game taking a 9-2 lead, with a balanced attack against the Orange.
Neither Ohio State or Syracuse shot the ball well in the first half; both teams combined to make just 20 field goals. Ohio State was 1-7 on three pointers.
Ohio State opened up the second half with a little ball movement, and it led to a 16-7 run which gave the Buckeyes a nine-point lead.
Syracuse wouldn’t go away. Brandon Triche got the lead down to four with 12:42 to play after hitting a big three-pointer. Triche finished the game with 15 points for Syracuse. The Orange closed the gap even more and made it a one-point game with 7:43 to play.
Ohio State rode the play of their big man Jared Sullinger who scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
There were questionable calls by the officials on both sides, but the Buckeyes rode out the storm and made enough free throws to hold off Syracuse.
Jared Sullinger led all scorers with 19 points, while Lenzelle Smith Jr. chipped in 18 points for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will play the winner of North Carolina and Kansas in one of the national semifinals in New Orleans next weekend.
One of the teams joining Ohio State in New Orleans will be the Louisville Cardinals who battled back from an 11-point second half deficit to beat the Florida Gators 72-68. Billy Donovan, Florida’s head coach was facing his long time teacher, Rick Pitino for a seventh time. Donovan has never beaten Pitino. The Gators dominated the game, but they couldn’t make a shot down the stretch and that allowed the Cardinals to climb back into the game.
Freshman Chane Behanan made the go-ahead basket with 1:06 left in the game to give Louisville a lead it would never relinquish. Florida had two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds, but both Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal’s shots never fell.
Louisville is headed to its ninth Final Four in program history; its second under Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have now won eight-straight games.