Ohio State wins Milwaukee regional, heads to Sweet 16

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Despite a sluggish start, the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes surged out of halftime and defeated the No. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 75-66 to advance to the Sweet 16 in St. Louis.

Buckeyes guard and national player of the year candidate Evan Turner led all scorers with 24 points on 8-for-19 shooting. He came up just short of a triple-double, recording nine rebounds and nine assists.

“I was just trying to take what the defense gave me,” Turner said. “I was trying to go at the right time and definitely just try my best to make plays and get everybody involved and definitely concentrate a little bit more on finishing shots.”

The Yellow Jackets took an early 8-2 lead but the Buckeyes pressure defense stifled them the rest of the way.  Georgia Tech committed 13 first half turnovers and 21 for the game.

After intermission, the Buckeyes broke it open with an 18-6 run to take a commanding 46-32 lead.  However, the resilient Yellow Jackets fought back with a 7-0 run to answer and kept it close until the final horn.

“We knew Georgia Tech was going to make a run back at us and I thought we did a pretty decent job in making free throws down the stretch and taking care of the ball,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We got we came for, on to St. Louis.”

At the break, Ohio State held a 28-26 advantage behind 16 points from Turner. He also contributed three assists and three steals in the first frame.

When it appeared Ohio State had secured their ticket to St. Louis, Georgia Tech came roaring back. Down by 15 with 4:51 remaining, the Yellow Jackets cut the Buckeye’s lead to four but couldn’t execute down the stretch and Ohio State sealed the victory with free throws in the waning seconds.

Ohio State junior guard Jon Diebler caught fire scoring 17 second half points en route to a 20-point performance.

“Because (Turner) was so aggressive the first half, he drew so much attention and that allowed for some open shots for us,” Diebler said. “We missed some good looks early on but Evan really kept us in the game. That’s why we’re a dangerous basketball team because he is going to draw so much attention and that leads to some easy shots for us.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets was Gani Lawal with 11 points. Derrick Favors and Glen Rice each chipped in 10 apiece.

Favors, Georgia Tech’s star freshman, fouled out with 35 seconds left in the game. He played just 10 minutes and collected only four rebounds.

Ohio State advanced to the Sweet 16 where it will match up against the No. 6 seed Tennessee Volunteers.