Ohio State claims Big Ten tournament title
CHICAGO -- Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points as Ohio State earned its third Big Ten tournament championship in four years with a 50-43 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday at the United Center.
The No. 10 Buckeyes (26-7) also earned an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, although there never a doubt that either team would go.
Traevon Jackson paced the No. 22 Badgers (23-11) with 10 points.
With the game deadlocked at 41-41 -- the sixth second-half tie -- Ohio State asserted control as guard Aaron Craft scored on a coast-to-coast fast-break layup and LaQuinton Ross added a pair of driving layups.
Ross' second basket, with 2:27 left in regulation, gave the Buckeyes a 47-41 lead, their biggest margin since early in the first half.
Thomas, meanwhile was 3-for-4 on free throws in the final 44 seconds to maintain the Ohio State margin.
The Buckeyes jumped to an early first-half lead as Craft and Sam Thompson had two buckets apiece to open a 13-6 advantage before eight minutes had elapsed. Wisconsin was just 3-for-10 (30-percent) in the same span.
But the Badgers and freshman Frank Kaminsky suddenly found their scoring touch with 14 unanswered points.
Kaminsky hit a jumper at the 9:20 mark, added a steal and feed to Ryan Evans for a successful layup and then hit a 3-pointer as Wisconsin opened a 20-13 lead.
Ohio State's Thompson broke the run with a jumper, but the Badgers renewed their surge on the way to a 24-15 advantage on Evans' hook shot with 3:20 left.
The Buckeyes then proceeded to close the gap as Thomas hit three buckets in a span of 2:39 span, leaving the Buckeyes down just 24-23 at halftime.
Thomas had eight first-half points while Thompson added six. Kaminsky paced the Badgers with five.
Ohio State grabbed a short-lived 25-24 lead on Amir Williams' first basket of the game just 27 seconds into the second half. But Mike Bruesewitz replied with a 3-pointer to put Wisconsin back on top.
From there the game settled into a back-and-forth pattern with the teams trading leads ties until Ohio State started to assert control with 5:30 to play.
The game was the last to be completed on Selection Sunday, with the NCAA tournament field announced shortly after it ended.
NOTES: Sunday's Big Ten contenders have made a combined 14 title game appearances. Ohio State leads with nine overall while Wisconsin has made five ... The Badgers claimed championships in 2004 and 2008 while the Buckeyes won in 2007, 2010 and 2011 ... It's been a milestone tourney for Craft, who topped 900 career points with 20 on Saturday against Michigan State and 500 assists with eight versus Nebraska last Friday ... The teams split two regular season meetings. The Buckeyes won 58-49 at home on Jan. 29 while the Badgers were victorious on Feb. 17 at Madison's Kohl Center ... Sunday's meeting was the 151st all-time in the series. Ohio State leads 85-67 ... Every Big Ten session sold out as the tournament drew a collective 124,543 fans to the United Center ... The 2014 finals are back in Indianapolis, and Chicago hosts again in 2015.
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