Ohio St. 85, Belmont 75
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State’s perfect record stayed intact after a scare from Belmont on Wednesday night, thanks to J.J. Sullinger’s second career double-double and some timely defense.
Sullinger scored 14 points in the second half and Je’Kel Foster had steals on consecutive possessions down the stretch to push the Buckeyes to an 85-75 win.
Ohio State (6-0) led by 14 in the first half and carried a 12-point lead into halftime before the Bruins (3-4) took a 48-47 lead on Andy Wicke’s layup with 13:26 left.
The Buckeyes called a 30-second timeout, then reclaimed the lead on a layup and a 3-pointer by Sullinger, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“He’s a guy that if we go for three hours, he’s nonstop for three hours,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We’ve asked numerous things of him, and he’s accepted the challenge.”
The Buckeyes also got 18 points from Foster, who was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Jamar Butler had 12 points and a career-high seven assists and Ron Lewis added 11 points as Ohio State won its third game in five days.
“Tonight it was evident we were exhausted. We couldn’t come up with a loose ball. We couldn’t come up with a rebound. We had to find the guys that were going to make the plays down the stretch,” Matta said.
Ohio State opened on a 13-2 run, keyed by 3-pointers from Sullinger, Foster and Matt Sylvester.
Wicke had 14 of his 21 points in the second to help Belmont close the gap. Josh Goodwin added 14 points while Boomer Herndon had 10 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Bruins.
Belmont hung around, tying it at 55 with 9:20 left on a Herndon layup. The decisive stretch came with Ohio State leading 64-59 and 6 minutes to play.
Foster made his second straight steal, feeding Sullinger for a dunk. Sullinger then stole it on the next possession and converted a three-point play to make it 69-59.
“We knew we had to string some stops together because they were making a run,” Foster said. “We had to find some kind of way to slow them down. The two steals came at the right time.”