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In like a Lion: Buckeyes clinch

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In their last meeting with Penn State, Ohio State freshmen Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft shouldered the load in the Buckeyes’ win against the Nittany Lions, with both players leading No. 1 OSU in scoring with 19 points apiece. Tuesday night, with a share of the Big Ten title on the line, it was the upperclassmen’s turn to carry the Buckeyes past Penn State.

OSU senior guard Jon Diebler made a school-record 10 3-point shots and scored 30 points, and junior guard William Buford scored 21 points for the Buckeyes, as they captured a share of their 19th Big Ten regular-season championship in program history with an 82-61 win at Penn State.

At one point, Diebler connected on nine consecutive 3-point shots en route to breaking the single-game school record.

“It seemed like the basket was an ocean,” Diebler said following the game. “The team did a great job of screening for me, and when someone feels good, that just shows you the unselfishness that we have.”

Diebler’s efforts surpassed the last OSU single-game record for 3-pointers, previously shared by former OSU guard Jay Burson and Diebler, who made nine 3-pointers in the Buckeyes’ Dec. 15 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Diebler also dished out five assists in the game, including one between his ninth and 10th 3-pointers, which led to a dunk from freshman forward Deshaun Thomas.

Five of Diebler’s 3-pointers came in the first half as he helped OSU jump out to a 33-18 lead into halftime. In the process, Diebler passed former Michigan guard Louis Bullock’s career mark of 340 3-pointers, a record that was later vacated by the NCAA when Bullock received improper benefits as an amateur.

In the second half, the Buckeyes didn’t let up, extending their lead to as many as 26 points against a team that was celebrating its Senior Night.

After scoring 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting in the Buckeyes’ and Nittany Lions’ first matchup, Penn State senior guard Talor Battle scored 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting Tuesday night. Battle’s effort wasn’t enough to close the gap on the Buckeyes, who have not lost to Penn State since Thad Matta took over the OSU program in 2004.

This year’s Big Ten Championship is Matta’s fourth in his seven years as OSU’s coach. Matta also coached the Buckeyes to Big Ten titles in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

With one game remaining in the regular season, OSU can win the conference title outright with either a Purdue loss to Iowa on Saturday, or by defeating Wisconsin at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.

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