From The Pages: The Big Ten Tourney, Part II

With 10 years of the Big Ten tournament complete and the 11th set to begin in Indianapolis this week, BSB takes a look back through its pages to remember the Buckeyes' past showings at the event. In Part II, Ohio State has its share of memorable runs, including 2003 and 2007 appearances in the title game.

Ten Big Ten men's basketball tournaments have been staged so far after the conference became one of the last leagues to give in to the end-of-season event. Since the tournament's inception in 1998, Ohio State has had its share of both glorious and forgettable performances, and the Buckeyes begin their 11th try tomorrow.

BuckeyeSports.com takes a look back through the pages of BSB to recap each of OSU's previous 10 performances in the conference's showcase weekend.

2003 – No. 9 seed; finals loss to Illinois
Ninth-seeded Ohio State rebounded from a sleepy 14-13 regular season to shockingly get to the finals before being bounced by a superior Illinois team, 72-59, in Chicago.

The Buckeyes opened the tourney with a tough 66-65 win against eighth-seeded Iowa. Brent Darby had 18 points, while Velimir Radinovic added 14 and Sean Connolly 15. The Buckeyes opened the second half with a 36-20 run to open a late 59-47 lead, but Iowa rebounded to tie the score at 64 before Darby's layup with 1.8 seconds left won the game.

Ohio State's reward for the win was a quarterfinal matchup with the No. 1 seed, Wisconsin. Bo Ryan's Badgers turned a 30-25 halftime deficit into a 36-31 lead 2:50 into the half, prompting head coach Jim O'Brien to call a timeout and deliver a red-faced sermon to his struggling team.

"The watered-down version doesn't exist," O'Brien said of what was said during the timeout.

OSU responded with a 9-0 run and hung on to post a 58-50 win. Connolly made 5 of 7 three-pointers to lead the Buckeyes with 21 points, while Darby added 16.

The Buckeyes needed a little magic to defeat fifth-seeded Michigan State to get to the finals. An ugly game – the teams combined to make just 31 of 91 field goals – came down to "C-Bass off the glass," as little-used reserve Charles Bass banked in a free throw with 6.1 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 55-54 lead. Chris Hill missed a 13-foot jumper going the other way that would have won it.

"Our kids, the last couple of days, just stayed together," O'Brien said. "This was a terrific, terrific, terrific win for our guys."

The luck ran out a day later against No. 2 seed Illinois in the finals. The Fighting Illini opened a second-half lead as big as 22 points and an OSU rally could get the Buckeyes no closer than nine during a 72-59 loss. Darby had 27 points while Connolly and Radinovic each had 12. Matt Sylvester, Shun Jenkins, Bass, Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, Emonte Jernigan and Zach Williams combined for eight points on 4-of-16 shooting in a combined 82 minutes.

2004 – No. 9 seed; first-round loss to Indiana
Ohio State entered the year expected to improve on a disappointing 2003 season, but OSU finished 14-16 with an 83-69, first-round loss to eighth-seeded Indiana in the Hoosier state capital.

The Buckeyes opened a 31-20 lead early on and dictated play until IU went on a 21-4 run to close the half and pulled ahead to finish the victory.

Indiana's marquee names of Bracey Wright (20 points) and A.J. Moye (19 points, eight rebounds) got the job done, but the Hoosiers also received vital contributions from unlikely sources. Former walk-on guards Mark Johnson and Ryan Tapak combined to score 19 points and went a combined 5 for 11 from beyond the arc. Tapak's second three of the day tied the score at 31 and completed an 11-0 run.

Terence Dials finished with 22 points while J.J. Sullinger had 18 and Radinovic 13. Tony Stockman made two three-pointers early but was shut down the rest of the day, finishing with eight points on 3-13 shooting.

"It's going to be a long ride home and a long offseason," Stockman told BSB.

It turned out to be the final game O'Brien coached at Ohio State.

2005 – No. 6 seed; quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin
Ohio State's season ended at the Big Ten tournament in Chicago, but not because of OSU's performance during the season. Instead, the 20-12 Buckeyes were banned from postseason play by the school because of transgressions committed during the O'Brien era.

Coming off of a win against undefeated No. 1 Illinois in the season finale, Thad Matta's initial Buckeye squad came out flat against 11-seed Penn State in the first round of the tournament. PSU built a 47-32 lead before a furious Ohio State comeback led to a 72-69 victory.

"I'm glad that game is over," Matta said. "They took us out of what we were trying to do, and we came out and didn't have the energy and the fire that we needed to play in this game."

Stockman finished with 25 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Sullinger finished with 11 points, nine of which came during an 18-2 run that gave the Buckeyes the lead. Geary Claxton had 20 points and 13 boards for Penn State.

OSU exited stage right a night later after a 60-49 loss to third-seeded Wisconsin. Zach Morley's 23 points earned game-high honors and were 11 more than the 12 scored by Alando Tucker and Mike Wilkinson of UW and Dials of OSU.

Wisconsin led 29-18 at halftime, but after OSU tied the score at 39 with 10 minutes to play, the Badgers closed the game on a 21-10 run. Wisconsin also had a 23-4 first-half spurt.

2006 – No. 1 seed; finals loss to Iowa
Matta's senior-laden Buckeye squad grabbed the Big Ten outright championship in his second year but could not pull off the same feat as Jim Foster's OSU women's team, which won both the conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Instead, the male Buckeyes had to settle for the regular-season version after a 67-60 loss to second-seeded Iowa in Indianapolis in which the Hawkeyes finished the game on a 15-3 run.

"I think it was pretty obvious we ran out of gas there down the stretch," Matta said. "We just didn't have enough to finish it off with nine scholarship players here. But I couldn't be prouder of the effort these guys brought and the intensity we played with."

Jamar Butler had 19 points for the Buckeyes and Sullinger added 15, while Jeff Horner made 7 of 14 shots to lead Iowa with 16 points.

The Buckeyes advanced to the finals with a 52-51 semifinal victory against fifth-seeded Indiana. Roderick Wilmont led IU with 16 points but missed a short rebound attempt with seconds to play after Mario Killingsworth also bricked a shot. Sullinger, who had to be taped up after he was cut by an elbow from Earl Calloway, came down with the rebound as time expired.

OSU set the final score when senior Matt Sylvester made a layup with 36 seconds to play after taking a pass from Dials after a backdoor cut.

"I told (Terence) after the game, I've been giving him assists for five years now, it's about time he gave me one," Sylvester said.

The Buckeyes opened the tourney with a 63-56 win against Penn State, which entered the tournament as the eight-seed. A year after erasing a 15-point second-half PSU lead, the Buckeyes had to make another comeback, this time chipping away at a 42-30 lead after intermission.

The Buckeyes took the lead for good on a layup by senior Je'Kel Foster with 4:54 remaining that made the score 52-51.

"I think the competitive nature really took over," Matta said. "It's a tremendous environment here in Indy. I think they decided they were going to make the plays, and we were a little more active."

Ron Lewis led the Buckeyes with 17 points while Dials had 13 and Sullinger, Butler and Sylvester had nine apiece. Columbus native Jamelle Cornley had 18 for Penn State and Claxton had 12 and 12 for a double-double.

2007 – No. 1 seed; finals win against Wisconsin
A Buckeye team ranked No. 1 in the nation was helped by contributors both young – in freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. – and old – seniors Ron Lewis and Ivan Harris – as it swept through the final Big Ten tournament in Chicago with wins against Michigan and NCAA tourney squads Purdue and Wisconsin.

"I think it was a statement," Conley said. "Three games in three days is a tough thing to do."

The triumph was punctuated by a title-game win over Wisconsin. Though OSU needed a last-second shot to beat the Badgers in Value City Arena during a No. 1 vs. No. 2 clash that served as the season's penultimate game, the Buckeyes had less trouble this time around thanks to a 66-49 victory over the No. 2 seed.

Ohio State kept Wisconsin to a field-goal percentage of 36.8 percent (21-57) and a three-point percentage of 17.4 percent (4-23). Kammron Taylor had 15 points for UW but league player of the year Alando Tucker had just 10. The two combined to make 10 of 31 shots from the field.

"We knew that Tucker and Taylor were going to try to take the majority of their shots," Matta said. "The big thing was the activity we could create to force them out a little bit farther."

Ohio State scored 40 points in the second half to pull away to the win after taking a 26-20 lead into the break. Oden was limited to just 22 minutes because of foul trouble, but he finished with 12 points and pulled in 10 rebounds. Conley topped all scorers with 18 points and Lewis chipped in 17.

The semifinal win for Ohio State came against fifth-seeded Purdue. The star was Oden, who finished with 17 points, a Big Ten tournament record 19 rebounds, and one putback dunk over Carl Landry that ignited the crowd and sent Oden screaming down the court with arms outstretched.

"I don't know what I did," Oden said. "I was just yelling. I enjoyed it."

Lewis (13 points), Conley (11) and Harris (10) also hit double figures the Buckeyes, who finished the game on a 21-9 run after Lewis and Harris said some key words in the huddle during a timeout with the Buckeyes trailing 43-42.

The Buckeyes opened the tournament with a 72-62 win over the No. 8 seed and rival Michigan, the squad with which OSU had closed the regular season six days earlier. Oden had 22 points while Lewis finished with 16 and Conley had 13 to go with six assists.

Michigan hit five three-pointers during a nine-minute second-half stretch to close OSU's lead from 42-32 to 52-49, but Oden scored five points over the next two possessions to kill the Wolverines' rally.

As his team cut down the nets after the win over Wisconsin, Matta had a proclamation that turned out to be true, as his team was about to embark on a run that would culminate in the national championship game.

"This basketball team's not done yet," the coach said.


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