COLUMBIA, S.C. – Ohio State Coach Thad Matta might have a second career ahead as a comedian.

Asked about the status of injured star forward Jared Sullinger, Matta said the sophomore wasn’t hurt, just yanked from the second-ranked Buckeyes’ 74-66 victory over South Carolina on Saturday for shoddy defense. “He had no problems, we just sent him to the showers,” Matta told the room of stunned media.

Then Matta acknowledged the joke and Sullinger’s bone bruise in his left foot. Ohio State’s coach was just glad he could laugh a little bit, since his leading scorer wasn’t more seriously hurt.

“We think he’ll be fine,” Matta said. “We’re just happy there wasn’t a break in there.”

Still, Ohio State (10-1) showed it could succeed with Sullinger sidelined. Deshaun Thomas had a career-high 30 points and William Buford added 17 as Matta collected his 200th win in nine seasons with the Buckeyes.

“We had to get a little juice into us,” Thomas said. “We made some mistakes on offense in the first half with turnovers and that’s not us. So we just put a little fire and juice into us.”

That looked as if it might be hard once Sullinger left the game. The Buckeyes were trailing 33-29 at the half and had appeared a step slower than the Gamecocks (4-6).

But Ohio State used a 20-8 run in the second half to take control.

(1) SYRACUSE 88, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 72: Dion Waiters scored 22 points to help the visiting Orange (11-0) top the Wolfpack (6-4).

Scoop Jardine added 16 points for Syracuse, including a pair of 3-pointers during an 11-2 spurt that finally gave the Orange some cushion after North Carolina State fought back from a 17-point deficit.

(3) KENTUCKY 87, TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA 62: Doron Lamb scored 24 points to help the host Wildcats (9-1) overcome an injury to forward Terrence Jones.

(4) LOUISVILLE 95, MEMPHIS 87: Russ Smith set personal bests with 24 points and seven steals as the Cardinals (10-0) survived a rough-and-tumble matchup against the Tigers (5-4) and extended their home winning streak to 18 games.

(5) NORTH CAROLINA 97, APPALACHIAN STATE 82: Tyler Zeller had 31 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels (9-2) to their 22nd straight home victory. 

(6) BAYLOR 86, BYU 83: Perry Jones III scored 28 points and Brady Heslip hit six 3-pointers to help the Bears (9-0) hold off the Cougars (8-3) at Provo, Utah.

(11) MARQUETTE 93, NORTHERN COLORADO 72: Freshman Todd Mayo replaced suspended star Darius Johnson-Odom in the starting lineup and scored 22 points to lead the Eagles (10-0) to a win at Milwaukee.

(13) FLORIDA 84, (22) TEXAS A&M 64: Kenny Boynton sank six 3-pointers and the Gators (8-2) built an early 16-point lead on the way to a win over the Aggies (8-2) in the Orange Bowl Classic at Sunrise, Fla.

Boynton finished with 22 points.

(15) PITTSBURGH 69, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE 55: Lamar Patterson tied a career high with 16 points and the Panthers (10-1) pulled away in the second half against the visiting Bulldogs (4-7).

(16) GEORGETOWN 81, AMERICAN 55: Henry Sims finished with 17 points and six assists, and the Hoyas (9-1) broke open a tight game early in the second half against the Eagles (8-4) at Washington.

(17) MISSISSIPPI STATE 80, DETROIT 75: Rodney Hood’s jump shot with 17.7 seconds left broke a 75-75 tie and lifted the visiting Bulldogs (11-1) to their 10th straight victory.

(18) INDIANA 69, NOTRE DAME 58: Cody Zeller had 21 points and eight rebounds, and the Hoosiers improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1989-90 by beating the Fighting Irish (7-5) at Indianapolis.

UNLV 64, (19) ILLINOIS 48: Mike Moser had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the Runnin’ Rebels (11-2) handed the Illini (10-1) their first loss of the season, at Chicago.

(20) MICHIGAN 87, ALABAMA A&M 57: Evan Smotrycz had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Trey Burke scored 19 points as the Wolverines (9-2) beat the Bulldogs (2-4) at Ann Arbor, Mich.


(4) STANFORD 85, PRINCETON 66: Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 22 points and 12 rebounds as the Cardinals (7-1) beat the Tigers (7-4) to extend their home winning streak to 67 games.

(6) TENNESSEE 85, UCLA 64: Meighan Simmons scored 18 points, Glory Johnson added 17 and the Volunteers (7-2) made 18 of their first 20 shots in a win over the Bruins (5-4) at Los Angeles.

(12) OHIO STATE 77, CALIFORNIA 75: Samantha Prahalis had 18 points and six assists, and the visiting Buckeyes (10-0) held off a late rally by the Golden Bears (8-3) to give Coach Jim Foster his 750th victory.

(14) LOUISVILLE 71, PORTLAND 42: Becky Burke scored 17 points and Shoni Schimmel added 14 for the Cardinals (10-2) in a win at Portland, Ore.

(15) TEXAS TECH 70, ILLINOIS 64: Christine Hyde scored 18 points, and the Red Raiders (9-0) held off the Illini (4-6) at Chicago.

BRIARCLIFFE 61, SOUTHERN MAINE CC 32: Shenita Urquhart, Ifeani Ofili and Patricia Simpson all finished with 17 points as Briarcliffe ended an 11-game winning streak for the Seawolves (11-2), at South Portland.

Marissa Welch had 11 points for SMCC.


NORTH DAKOTA STATE 35, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 7: Quarterback Brock Jensen accounted for 231 total yards despite playing with the flu, and receiver Warren Holloway scored twice to help the Bison (13-1) beat the Eagles (11-3) in a Football Championship Subdivision semifinal at Fargo, N.D.

POTATO BOWL: Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton scored on a 1-yard run with 13 seconds left to give the Bobcats (10-4) a 24-23 victory over Utah State (7-6) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise, Idaho.

Tettleton also threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He led a 61-yard drive in the final two minutes to give Ohio its first-ever bowl victory and first 10-win season since 1968.

NEW MEXICO BOWL: Bernard Pierce ran for two early touchdowns, and Chris Coyer threw for 169 yards and a touchdown to help Temple (9-4) beat Wyoming (8-5) 37-15 at Albuquerque, N.M.

Coyer, a sophomore who also rushed for 71 yards, was selected as the game’s offensive MVP.

PENN STATE: Matt McGloin was treated at a hospital and released after university police said they responded to a report of fight in the team locker room between the starting quarterback and backup receiver Curtis Drake.

McGloin’s father, Paul, told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his son suffered a seizure and a possible concussion but was back at his campus apartment.

No. 24 Penn State is preparing to face Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2 in Dallas.