No. 6 Kansas 64, No. 7 Ohio St. 62

Jared Sullinger was supposed to give Ohio State a big advantage

in its rematch with Kansas.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Sullinger, Ohio State’s super sophomore, struggled against

Kansas’ big front line, shooting 5 for 19 in the Buckeyes’ 64-62

loss to the Jayhawks in the Final Four on Saturday night.

Sullinger didn’t play when Kansas beat Ohio State 78-67 on Dec.

10 because of back spasms. With the hefty power forward back in the

lineup, the Buckeyes were supposed to have the upper hand

inside.

Instead, Jayhawks center Jeff Withey harassed Sullinger

throughout the second half as Kansas rallied from a 13-point

deficit to earn a spot in Monday night’s national title game

against top-seeded Kentucky.

Sullinger, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds,

struggled with his emotions after the loss, walking with his jersey

pulled over his head as the teams lined up to shake hands.

Now, he’ll have to decide if he wants to come back to the

Buckeyes again or head to the NBA.

Either way, this wasn’t the way he hoped the season would

end.

Sullinger was expected to bolt from Columbus after being

selected first-team All-America as a freshman. Big, agile and with

good hands, he was projected as a lottery pick, so the assumption

was that he was gone.

Sullinger surprised nearly everyone by deciding to return,

saying he wanted a shot at a national title after the Buckeyes were

bounced early from the NCAA tournament as the top overall seed last

year.

Sullinger had a superb sophomore season, leading second-seeded

Ohio State (31-8) into the Final Four while earning All-America

honors for the second straight season.

He had been dominant at times in the NCAA tournament and was

good early against the Jayhawks, using his big backside to create

space down low. With Sullinger leading the way, the Buckeyes

bullied No. 2 seed Kansas inside early on, building a 26-13 lead

that was still nine by halftime.

Then things quickly changed.

With Thomas Robinson asserting himself more and Sullinger

struggling against Withey’s reach, Kansas (32-6) stormed back,

using a 13-4 run to tie the game at 49-all.

Sullinger tried to push back, but had a hard time finding any

room to maneuver inside. He had three shots blocked by Withey in

about a minute and had to alter several others around and over the

7-footer’s long arms.

When Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas went to the bench

with his fourth foul, Sullinger again tried to carry the load and

again couldn’t get it done.

Kansas hit all the big shots down the stretch and got to

celebrate, while Sullinger dejectedly walked off the floor after

what might have been his final game at Ohio State.