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CHICAGO, Ill. – Bruce Thornton continued his strong play as he scored 21 points to lead Ohio State to a third consecutive victory in the Big Ten Tournament, beating No. 4 seed Michigan State 68-58 on Friday.
The Buckeyes advance to play top-seeded Purdue in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET. Ohio State is the first No. 13 seed to reach the semifinals in tournament history.
Thornton’s 21 points were one-shy of his season. He also had a season-high tying six assists with zero turnovers. Fellow freshman Roddy Gayle Jr. had another great game, scoring a season high 15 points on 3-of-3 from long range.
Justice Sueing was the third Buckeye in double figures as he knocked down a career high four three-pointers and finished with 14 points. Sean McNeil played a season high 39 minutes and pulled down a career-high six rebounds to go along with five points and three assists. Big man Felix Okpara had eight points, eight rebounds and a season-high five blocks.
Michigan State led 7-2 early but then Thornton had a driving layup and McNeil knocked down a three-pointer to give the Buckeyes a lead that they would never relinquish. Ohio State was 5-of-9 from long range in the first half and ended up shooting 52 pecent in the opening 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Michigan State was just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc and shot just 31 percent.
The Spartans used a 5-0 run to cut the lead to two at the start of the second-half. But the Buckeyes responded with a 10-2 run to shove the lead out to 10 with 11 and a half minutes to play. Then just like on Thursday, Gayle Jr. took over as he knocked down a jumper and then a long three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Buckeyes a 51-39 advantage at the under-eight media timeout.
Michigan State again clawed back to within six but then Gayle Jr. knocked down a pair of free throws and another three-pointer to shove the lead right back out to double digits. The Buckeyes would cruise home from that point.
Ohio State was without leading scoring Brice Sensabaugh, who missed the game with a knee injury.