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Sullinger And No. 1 Ohio St. Prove Critics Wrong With Win Over Purdue

Jessica Benson |
January 27, 2011 | 1:12 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Undefeated Ohio St. proved this week they're the best team in the nation. (Creative Commons)
Undefeated Ohio St. proved this week they're the best team in the nation. (Creative Commons)
Do the Ohio State Buckeyes have a chance at that ever elusive perfect season? 

After Tuesday night’s 87-64 victory over No. 12 Purdue, the possibility doesn’t seem quite as far fetched.

With six players scoring in double digits and an impressive team field goal percentage of 55.2 percent, those who doubted the Buckeyes’ No. 1 ranking may soon forget their skepticism.

The Buckeyes, with a record of 21-0, are now the only unbeaten team in Division 1 Men’s Basketball.  Previously unbeaten No. 4 San Diego State has played well thus far, but was knocked off by Jimmer Fredette and No. 9 BYU on Wednesday.

Led by freshman prodigy Jared Sullinger, it appears the Buckeyes have a strong chance of paving their way to Houston, Texas this April on the way to the 2011 Final Four.  At 6-foot-9, 286 pounds, Sullinger is the kryptonite-baffling NCAA player to beat.

“Jared is a great player. Teams definitely have to decide how they’re going to guard him,” teammate Aaron Craft said.   

And just when teams think they finally have Sullinger figured out, he time and again surprises his fans, competitors and teammates with his never-ending talents. 

The Boilermakers learned the hard way not to discount Sullinger’s  outside shooting. The wide-bodied forward made a flashy 3-pointer while the shot clock ticked away, making  it clear teams must defend every aspect of the court when it comes to facing Sullinger.

And while acknowledging that Sullinger is undoubtedly the team’s most valuable asset, the Buckeyes as a team present a formidable front themselves. As Sullinger struggled to gain his usual momentum in Tuesday night’s game – he scored just 4 points in the first half – the Buckeyes went into halftime with a 20-point lead thanks to the scoring of teammates William Buford and Aaron Craft.

After a series of close games, including a narrow three-point win against Penn State last week, Ohio State’s decisive victory over Purdue shattered the idea that the underrated Buckeyes should not be No. 1.

The Buckeyes moved into that No. 1 slot following the Jan. 12 matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and the Florida State Seminoles.  With a 66-61 loss, the Blue Devils’ undefeated streak ended, and they fell from the top ranking.

Fortunately for Ohio State, Duke isn’t the only top 25 team to fall.  Most recently, No. 10 Syracuse suffered an embarrassing 22-point loss to unranked Seaton Hall, their third loss in a row.

With so many top 25 teams jockeying for position, the question is can the Buckeyes remain unbeaten? Next up is a matchup with the Northwestern Wildcats. 

Maybe they will finally be the team to ruin Ohio State’s winning streak.

Then again with no wins against a top 25 team thus far, probably not.

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