CHICAGO – Sam Thompson grew up in Chicago and went to high school near the United Center.
So this was one special homecoming for the silky smooth sophomore, who had a career-high 19 points to help No. 10 Ohio State rout Nebraska 71-50 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.
It felt great to be home, playing in front of my family and all that, he said. It’s always fun to play back in Chicago.
Thompson was 6 for 6 from the field in the second half, when the Buckeyes were 17 for 22 overall. The 6-foot-7 forward also had a steal and blocked a shot while playing 28 minutes in his first game in the current home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
It was cool. We got here about 30 minutes before we were able to touch the basketball and stuff, said Thompson, a former prep star at Whitney Young High School. Just coming out here, seeing all the banners, seeing the Madhouse on Madison United Center, it was a great feeling.
The Buckeyes turned a close game into a runaway with an impressive 30-5 spree spanning halftime.
Fort Wayne native Deshaun Thomas closed the run out with a strong reverse dunk that lifted the Buckeyes to a 54-28 lead with 12:01 left. The junior forward flexed and yelled after the big slam led to a celebration on the Ohio State sideline.
We got off to a slow start and I thought once we focused in and got our minds where they needed to be, we were very effective, especially with the defense, coach Thad Matta said. Second half, shooting 77 percent, we had a better pace to our offense, which is what we needed.
Thomas added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Buckeyes (24-7), who have won six straight. Ross finished with 11 points and Craft had eight assists, giving him 500 for his career.
The Buckeyes advance to face Michigan State in the quarterfinal today; a rematch of last season’s championship.
No. 8 MICHIGAN STATE 59, IOWA 56: Adreian Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading Michigan State to a rugged victory in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Keith Appling and Gary Harris had 13 points apiece for the Spartans (25-7), who trailed by 12 midway through the second half.
Iowa was oh so close to an upset victory that could have cemented a spot in the field for next week’s NCAA tournament. Instead, the Hawkeyes will have to sweat out a nervous Selection Sunday.
Mike Gesell led Iowa (21-12) with nine points. The Hawkeyes had no players score in double figures.
No. 22 WISCONSIN 68, No. 6 MICHIGAN 59: Ben Brust scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead Wisconsin to the second round victory
Traevon Jackson had 16 points for the Badgers (22-10), who will play top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals today. Ryan Evans added 12 points, six rebounds and six assist.
Trey Burke had 19 points and seven assists for Michigan (26-7). Tim Hardaway Jr. added 14 points and nine boards.