In improbable fashion, Ohio State advanced to their sixth straight B1G tournament semifinal with a 71-67 victory over Nebraska. The win sets up a second crack at the Michigan Wolverines tomorrow at 1:40 p.m. on CBS.
LaQuinton Ross was the lead story with a career-high 26 points, 13 rebounds and another technical foul but I'll have more on him in the morning. For now, here are three other things of note from one of the more bi-polar performances during Thad Matta's run in Columbus.
College basketball is often a game of runs but this was ridiculous. Ohio State jumped out a quick 11-3 lead and held serve, still leading by eight at 20-12 with 8:50 left in the 1st half before the wheels came off.
Nebraska answered with a 36-10 run straddling the halves, putting them in front 48-30 with 13:45 to play as the Buckeyes missed 13 of 17 shots with six turnovers and lost their composure, particularly Ross who earned a cheap technical foul following a traveling call and a brief swipe at a defender who unnecessarily reached in to take the ball after the whistle.
Ross regrouped almost immediately, splashing a triple to stop the epic run and fuel a closing 41-19 outburst from the Buckeyes to produce the final margin.
Q tallied 16 points during the blitz and Amedeo Della Valle added 11 while the Buckeye D went on lockdown allowing just one field goal over the final 5 minutes and only three over the final 10.
The Buckeyes even hit their free throws when it counted, dropping 10 of 10 over the final 3:17.
rock me, amedeo
Della Valle produced a gaudy stat line of 12 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals against zero turnovers in 21 clutch minutes.
I've been a non-believer all year - still am frankly - but that was a hell of a performance especially when put in context. ADV stepped up when the Buckeyes needed a boost with those 11 huge points and his three blocks and two steals also occurred in the 2nd half. He also hit four of four free throws in the final :13 to help seal the deal.
Della Valle's 21 minutes were the most since two days after Christmas when he logged 20, scoring 14 points, in OSU's last non-conference tuneup, a blowout of Louisiana-Monroe.
Over his previous ten games, totaling 90 (freaking) minutes, Della Valle scored a combined eight points.
Hat tip, sir. Hat tip.
It's pretty amazing this season has been nothing short of frustrating yet Thad Matta still managed to post his fifth-straight 25+ win season.
There's probably plenty of blame to go around for some very uneven performances this season and the fact many guys on the roster have shown little improvement over their current careers but the man wins games.
Today's win improved Matta to 21-5 in the B1G tournament and put him in the semifinals for the sixth straight year.
The fact is, this team, when looking at the entire roster and the various stages of player development within it, is the most flawed since his 2008-09 squad that got bounced by Siena in the 1st round of the Dance but they've won nine of 12 games dating back to February 1st. Not bad. Not great but not bad.