COLUMBIA, S.C. - Ohio State fans traveled en masse to Saturday's game against South Carolina and you could have heard a pin drop when Jared Sullinger left the court for the second time after a left foot injury. But after a rough first half DeShaun Thomas stepped up with a career high 30 points and William Buford chipped in 17 to move into the top-ten all-time for Ohio State scorers and the No. 2 Buckeyes held on for a hard fought 74-66 win.
Sullinger left the court at the 16:37 mark of the first half and had his left foot attended to and returned at the 12:43 mark only to leave the game for good three minutes later. The sophomore forward was taken to an off-site facility for x-rays that came up negative but Sullinger did return to the Ohio State bench late in the game on crutches and in warm-ups. Sullinger kicked in three points and two rebounds in limited minutes.
The Gamecocks were led by Malik Cooke and his 21 points. Cooke had to receive medical attention twice after taking an elbow to his eyelid during a rebounding scrum. The senior forward received stitches and had to get them redone during the final stretches of the game.
Sullinger returned from injury (back spasms) during the USC-Upstate game and had 12 points and ten rebounds in 25 minutes against the Spartans. The Buckeye offense has struggled in a pair of games without the Preseason All-American in the lineup. The woes seemed to catch up with the Buckeyes in the first half of the game with Sullinger's status being up in the air.
Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams stepped in to fill Sullinger's role and combined for 11 points and combined for seven rebounds.
Ohio State would hold onto a tenuous lead until the 3:37 mark of the first half when Damien Leonard had a three pointer to give South Carolina a 27-26 lead. The Gamecocks would take a 33-29 lead into the half time locker room and would extend that lead to as many as six in the early parts of the second half.
But Ohio State would chip away and take the lead away for good and the play of Thomas would give the Buckeyes the missing push that they needed scoring six straight to extend the lead to 55-46.
Thad Matta's team held a dominating edge on the glass with a rebounding edge of 34-19 and of 15-7 on the offensive glass. Lenzelle Smith Jr. led Ohio State with nine rebounds, four on the offensive glass.
Saturday's win gives Matta 200 career wins as the Ohio State head coach, he is the third coach in school history to reach 200 wins. Fred Taylor won 279 games and Harold G. Olsen won 254 with the Scarlet and Gray.