Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sports

Buckeyes grind out Big Ten title

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CHICAGO — Deshaun Thomas and Ohio State were tired, worn down by a grueling Big Ten tournament. Traevon Jackson and Wisconsin had little left as well in the third game in three days for each team.

Locked in a battle of wills, the Buckeyes found a way.

Thomas scored 17 and No. 10 Ohio State used its stout defense to beat No.  22 Wisconsin 50-43 Sunday for its Big Ten-best fifth tournament title.

"We were challenging our guys every timeout, telling them, 'You've got one more gear. You've got one more gear,' " Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Fortunately for us, we made some big plays and then finally knocked a couple shots down."

Thomas made 6 of 19 shots from the field but hit some big free throws down the stretch as second-seeded Ohio State (26-7) won the championship for the third time in four years. Aaron Craft, who was voted the most outstanding player of the tournament, had nine points and six rebounds, and LaQuinton Ross delivered a couple of huge plays.

Jackson scored 10 for the fourth-seeded Badgers (23-11), who shot 38.3 percent from the field. None of his teammates reached double figures with Sam Dekker next up at eight points.

"It's a disappointment," senior Ryan Evans said. "We definitely wanted to leave here with some hardware, but moving forward, we've got the NCAA Tournament.

"It's a bigger thing, and I'm looking forward to that."

ATLANTIC 10: A highlight of a year it spent mourning the death of former coach Rick Majerus, No. 16 and top-seeded St. Louis (27-6) won the second conference tournament title in school history, beating 25th-ranked and second-seeded Virginia Commonwealth (26-8) 62-56 in New York. Kwamain Mitchell, whose senior season started 11 games late because of foot surgery, scored 19, including a huge 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down.

"Losing one of the best coaches in NCAA basketball, all those things brought us together," Mitchell said. "All those hard times, it paid off right now.

"I'm just excited guys stuck with it."

DIVISION II: Fourth-seeded Saint Leo (22-8) lost 84-65 to top-seeded Florida Southern in the NCAA South Region semi­finals in Lakeland.

Kentucky in NIT

Kentucky, last season's NCAA Tournament champion, will have to settle for trying to win the NIT.

Kentucky's SEC rivals, Alabama and Tennessee, also landed in the NIT, marking the first time in 39 years the Wildcats, Crimson Tide and Volunteers were left out of the same NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide are No. 1 seeds in the NIT along with Southern Miss and Virginia.

Tennessee is a No. 2 seed along with Maryland, Baylor and Massachusetts.

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