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Ohio State men’s basketball levels Lamar, 70-50

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If Ohio State men’s basketball sophomore forward Jared Sullinger’s recent injuries are still bothering him, he did a good job of hiding it on Tuesday night against Lamar.

Sullinger led all players in both points and rebounds with 18 and 11, respectively, as No. 2-ranked OSU defeated Lamar, 50-70, at the Schottenstein Center Tuesday in the first-ever contest between the two schools.

Sullinger, who was hampered by back spasms he suffered during OSU’s Nov. 29 victory against Duke and a bone bruise he suffered against South Carolina Friday, logged 30 minutes of playing time Tuesday. He had 31 combined minutes in the Buckeyes’ previous two games

“It got better. The swelling went down,” Sullinger said of the foot injury that forced him from OSU win against the Gamecocks just six minutes into the game. “During the course of the game (Tuesday), it started to loosen up more. I played today, so that’s always a good sign.”

OSU coach Thad Matta agreed.

“We’re getting him and we can continue to see the improvement on a daily basis,” Matta said of Sullinger’s injuries.  

OSU led by just five points halfway through the first half before outscoring Lamar and growing the lead to 13 by halftime.

OSU fans also got a bit of a scare in the first half when senior guard William Buford came out with what looked like a shoulder injury. Buford winced and tugged on his right arm and wrist as he darted for the bench to receive medical attention. Buford would later return and Matta said after the game that he sustained a “stinger,” or temporary paralysis, in his neck.

Sullinger scored 10 of his team’s first 12 points in the second half, during which the Buckeyes led by double digits the entire time. Eight of the 10 points were scored via dunk or layup.

“He’s so quick with the ball,” Lamar coach Pat Knight said. “He had my guys so buried and he was so close, he had the ball up before we could even get anybody down there to double down on him.”

Knight’s father, former OSU basketball player and Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, was presented with an alumni award during a halftime ceremony by former OSU football running back and two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin. Knight was a member OSU’s1960 national champion men’s basketball squad.

When play resumed after Knight addressed the crowd, Lamar was unable to mount a comeback.

The visitors failed to connect on all 12 of its 3-point attempts despite numerous open looks.

“We just couldn’t hit shots,” Pat Knight said.

The lead grew to 20 on a Sullinger lay-up with just under eight minutes in the game. The Buckeyes never looked back.

“If you told me we were going to win by 20 points tonight, I would have told you you’re crazy,” Matta said. “I thought Lamar was a really good basketball team and we probably did some things better than I thought we did.”

The Buckeyes (11-1) conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule Thursday against the Miami Redhawks at Nationwide Arena. Opening tip is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

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