Perfect Thursday: Big Ten Goes 3-0 In Tourney Openers

Deshaun Thomas scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lift Ohio State to a 78-59 win over Loyola (MD) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Earlier Thursday, Jordan Hulls scored 22 points and Cody Zeller added 14 as Indiana won 79-66 victory over New Mexico State while Jordan Taylor scored 17 and grabbed eight rebounds to help Wisconsin past Montana 73-49.

Get game-by-game takes from BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart on Wisconsin and Indiana, and then more from Dienhart in this post. And don’t forget: The Big Ten has three more teams playing tourney openers on Friday.

Find the full interactive bracket at NCAA.com.

East Regional: #2 Ohio State 78, #15 Loyola (MD) 59: BOX | SCOREBOARD | RECAPPREVIEW | OhioStateBuckeyes.com Tourney Central

Tom Dienhart’s key player: Deshaun Thomas had a game for the ages, pouring in 31 points. And he had just one 3-pointer. The sophomore hit 13-of-22 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jared Sullinger also notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Key number: 45 Ohio State rebounds. Loyola had no chance. The shots the Buckeyes missed, they typically grabbed and put back in the hoop en route to notching 13 offensive boards. That dominance allowed Ohio State, which limited Loyola to 35.2 percent shooting, to overcome 18 turnovers.

What’s next? The Buckeyes will battle No. 7 Gonzaga, which dumped No. 10 West Virginia in the first round of one of the most impressive efforts of Thursday. The Zags aren’t some soft, 3-point shooting team from the West Coast Conference. Rather, Gonzaga has some size inside with players like Robert Sacre, Sam Dower and Elias Harris. Buckeyes like Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas and William Buford will be pushed along the front line in what could be one of the best games on Saturday.

FINAL RECAP: Deshaun Thomas scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lift Ohio State to a 78-59 win over Loyola (MD) on Thursday at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State (28-7) was able to secure second chance opportunities, grabbing 13 offensive boards. Jared Sullinger stuffed the statsheet for the Buckeyes with a double-double. He contributed 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Ohio State also got a double-digit performance from William Buford, who scored 17.

Erik Etherly scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Loyola (24-9) in a losing effort. The Greyhounds had trouble finding their touch, shooting just 35 percent (19-of-54) from the field. Loyola also got a double-digit game from Dylon Cormier, who scored 14.

Winning the battle on the boards was crucial for the Buckeyes as they grabbed 45 rebounds to 23 for the Greyhounds.

HALFTIME RECAP: Loyola (MD) is down 42-31 to No. 7 Ohio State at the half despite a big game so far for Erik Etherly. In the first 20 minutes, Etherly scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds, and shot 4-of-6 from the field. The Buckeyes controlled the boards, outrebounding the Greyhounds 24-16 in the first half.

Ohio State was able to draw fouls and get to the line with regularity. The Buckeyes made 18 of 18 free throws. Trailing early in the game, Ohio State used a 7-0 run to blow past Loyola and take a 8-5 lead. The Buckeyes applied the pressure in the first half, earning second-chance opportunities with nine offensive rebounds, to just three for the Greyhounds.

Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas already has 14 points and five rebounds.

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