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Dec 28, 2002

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Post Game Press Conference Audio
Ohio State Head Coach Jim O’Brien
Tennessee State Assistant Coach Hosea Lewis

By CHARLEY GILLESPIE
Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sean Connolly scored a career-high 24 points and Brent Darby added 22 points as Ohio State beat Tennessee State 94-73 Saturday.

Connolly, who missed his first four 3-point shots, got hot in the second half, making three layups and a 3-pointer in a 21-7 period-opening run that gave the Buckeyes a 63-30 lead.

The senior guard shot 8-of-12 from the field including 2-of-6 3-pointers to help Ohio State (6-3) win its third straight.

Darby had two 3-pointers, a steal and a layup during the key run. He shot 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 on 3-pointers.

Zach Williams shot 7-of-8 from the field for 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Buckeyes.

Emonte Jernigan hit two of his three 3-pointers in a 16-2 run that gave Ohio State a 22-11 lead with 7:48 remaining in the first half.

The Buckeyes then closed the half on a 10-3 spurt – with two jumpers each from Williams and Darby – to go ahead 42-23. Darby scored 11 points in the first half.

Ohio State outrebounded Tennessee State 21-8 in the first half and 48-22 for the game.

Brandon Lockridge made 6-of-8 3-pointers and scored 18 points to lead Tennessee State (2-6), which played without coach Nolan Richardson III.

Richardson was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of university policy. Assistant coach Hosea Lewis served as acting coach.

The NCAA is investigating the Tigers for rules violations under Richardson. The inquiry involves allegations of practice out of season, providing extra benefits to recruits and unethical conduct by a coach.

Richardson, the son of former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson, is 23-41 since his hiring in April 2000.

Ohio State has won three straight despite being hampered by several injuries. Center Terence Dials missed the game because of a sore back, and point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham was limited to 9 minutes due to an injured left knee.

Ohio State’s only losses have been to Alabama, Pittsburgh and Duke, the top three teams in the AP Poll.