Ohio State finally put an end to the Big East’s Sweet 16 run.
But after blowing a 12-point halftime lead, second-seeded Ohio State recovered and midway through the second half went on a big run to take control of the game before pulling away for a 81-66 victory over sixth-seeded Cincinnati in an East Region game on Thursday night in Boston.
In the first meeting between the schools in 50 years, Deshaun Thomas scored 26 points and Jared Sullinger had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes (30-7), who will play Syracuse in Saturday’s regional final.
Thomas scored a season-high 31 points in the Buckeyes’ tournament-opening victory over Loyola (Md.) and he was on a roll in the first half, making 8 of 12 shots, including 3 of 5 from three-point range, for 20 points. But he had just six points after halftime and for a time, Cincinnati looked like it might advance.
The Bearcats opened the second half hot, taking a 46-43 lead — their first since the game’s first five minutes — on Cashmere Wright’s three-pointer followed by Dion Dixon’s layup. With Sullinger having picked up his third foul, the Buckeyes appeared in some trouble.
However, Ohio State countered with a 17-1 run capped by Sullinger’s mid-range jumper that made it 65-53.
Wright led Cincinnati with 18 points. The Bearcats finished 26-11.
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