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Buckeyes top Wolverines, close in on Big Ten crown

Mar 12, 2011 - 11:06 PM Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Jon Diebler scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds, as the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes held off a late Michigan rally to emerge with a 68-61 win in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Jared Sullinger posted 14 points and a game-high 13 boards for the top-seeded Buckeyes (31-2), who advanced to the championship game for the fifth time in six years. Ohio State will face Penn State in Sunday's title game.

Darius Morris had 16 points and Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 15 for the fourth- seeded Wolverines (20-13).

"I thought we really battled the entire game today," said Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Trailing 65-48 with just under four minutes remaining, the Wolverines went on a 13-0 run to make things interesting down the stretch. Zack Novak and Evan Smotrycz nailed consecutive three-pointers, the latter coming with 21.4 seconds left, to trim Michigan's deficit to 65-61.

Smotrycz missed from beyond the arc after Diebler sank 1-of-2 free throws. Ohio State's David Lighty secured the defensive rebound and sealed the win at the foul line.

The Buckeyes led 31-27 at the break and extended their advantage to 11 early in the second half.

Michigan closed within two at 47-45, but Ohio State responded with a 16-0 burst that gave it a seemingly comfortable 18-point cushion.

"Our defense, again, I thought was pretty good, but when you make mistakes against a team like Michigan, they make you pay, and they got us a couple times in that regard," said Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. "But once again, I thought this was just a great team win for our program."

Game Notes

William Buford supplied 14 points for the Buckeyes, who shot 46 percent after shooting just 32 percent Friday against Northwestern...Michigan made 37 percent of its shots...Ohio State improved to 10-2 in the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1 seed.