While the Ohio State men’s basketball program experienced many rough patches the last couple of years, it certainly had its fair share of high points during former head coach Thad Matta’s 13-year tenure in Columbus. With that, here are the top-10 moments of the Matta era.
No. 10 – Matt Sylvester’s game-winning three vs. LSU, 2005-06
With Ohio State trailing Glen “Big Baby” Davis and LSU, 76-75, Sylvester hits a three with 5.5 seconds remaining to put the Buckeyes ahead by two. They would hold on for the 78-76 win.
No. 9 – Ohio State blows out Duke, 2011-12
No. 2 Ohio State welcomed third-ranked Duke to town for an early season matchup between a pair of unbeatens. Jumping out to an 11-0 lead, the Buckeyes dominated from start to finish. OSU led by as many as 25 late in the second half, and won by a final tally of 85-63. Jared Sullinger led the way with 21 points while William Buford added 20, Deshaun Thomas 18 and Aaron Craft 17.
No. 8 – Ohio State clinches Big Ten championship with win over Wisconsin, 2006-07
In the second-to-last game of the regular season, Ohio State freshman guard Mike Conley made a runner with 4 seconds left to give the second-ranked Buckeyes a 49-48 victory over No. 1 Wisconsin. The win secured Ohio State’s second straight Big Ten championship. The contest between the Badgers and Buckeyes marked the first time Big Ten teams have met in a 1 vs. 2 game.
No. 7 – William Buford’s game-winner at Michigan State, 2011-12
Tenth-ranked Ohio State needed a win at No. 5 Michigan State on the final day of the regular season to claim a share of the Big Ten crown. The Buckeyes did just that when Buford hit a long jumper over Spartan guard Keith Appling with less than a second remaining to ultimately give OSU a 72-70 win.
No. 6 – Buckeyes overcome 17-point halftime deficit to defeat Tennessee in Sweet 16, 2006-07
No. 1 seed Ohio State found itself behind fifth-seeded Tennessee, 49-32, at halftime of a Sweet 16 matchup in the South Regional of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes slowly chipped away in the second half, though. An alley-oop dunk by Ron Lewis from Conley brought OSU within two midway through the period, and a corner triple from freshman David Lighty with less than three minutes remaining tied it at 79 apiece. Conley split a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left to put Ohio State ahead, 85-84. Greg Oden, who had been dealing with foul trouble all night, blocked Ramar Smith’s runner as time expired to preserve the Buckeye win and set up a date with Memphis in the Elite Eight.
No. 5 – LaQuinton Ross hits game-winning three vs. Arizona in Sweet 16, 2012-13
With the game tied at 70-all, Ross hit a long three that put No. 2 seed Ohio State ahead of sixth-seeded Arizona, 73-70, with 2 seconds left in the Sweet 16 of the West Regional in 2013 NCAA tourney. Ross scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half. Thomas poured in 20 points for the game, and Craft added 13. The Buckeyes wound up losing to Wichita State in the West Regional final.
No. 4 – Aaron Craft’s three gives OSU a victory over Iowa State, 2012-13
Four days prior to Ross’ game-winner, Craft hit a game-clinching trey vs. Iowa State in what was technically the third round of the 2013 Big Dance. This time, the game was tied at 75 apiece until Craft knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer with a half-second remaining to give OSU a 78-75 win over 10th-seeded Iowa State. The Buckeyes advanced to the round of 16 for the fourth straight year, a school record.
No. 3 – Ohio State knocks off undefeated Illinois with Sylvester’s three, 2004-05
The 2004-05 season marked Matta’s first year in Columbus. Though that Ohio State team could not participate in non-Big Ten tournament postseason play because of violations committed by the previous coaching regime, it gave everything it had in the regular-season finale vs. top-ranked Illinois. The Illini arrived at Ohio’s capital city owning a 32-0 record. They left with their first loss of the season. Sylvester took part in his late-game heroics yet again, making one of the most well-known shots in the Matta era.
No. 2 – Ron Lewis’ game-tying three vs. Xavier in NCAA tourney, 2006-07
This is arguably the most famous shot in Ohio State men’s basketball NCAA Tournament history during Matta’s tenure. Top-seeded Ohio State was trailing No. 9 seed Xavier by two with less than 10 seconds left in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Oden used his fifth and final foul on Justin Cage to send him to the foul line. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Cage made the first free throw but missed the second. After an Ohio State rebound, Conley passed the ball to Lewis and set a screen, setting up Lewis’ triple that evened the game at 62-all. Ohio State went on to win in overtime, 78-71.
No. 1 – Evan Turner’s game-winner vs. Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, 2009-10
Ohio State was trailing archrival Michigan, 68-66, with about 2 seconds remaining in the quarterfinal round of the 2010 Big Ten tournament. Turner, the 2010 National Player of the Year, received the inbounds pass, raced up the floor and hit a shot a few strides inside of the half-court line as time expired to give the Buckeyes a 69-66 win. What better team to do it against than the Wolverines.