Ohio State downs Syracuse to punch ticket to Final Four

Another Elite Eight appearance, another trip to the Final Four for the Buckeyes.

Jared Sullinger scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and Ohio State held off Syracuse, 77-70, in the East Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

Lenzelle Smith Jr., who had three stitches to close a cut near his right eye early in the first half, scored 16 of his 18 in the second half for the second-seeded Buckeyes.

Ohio State (31-7) gained its first trip to the Final Four since 2007, the year the Buckeyes lost to Florida in the national championship game. Awaiting in New Orleans next Saturday will be North Carolina or Kansas. The Tar Heels and Jayhawks will battle in the Midwest Regional final on Sunday.

This was Ohio State's 11th trip to the Elite Eight. They are 10-1 in those appearances, with the lone loss coming in 1992 to Michigan in overtime. Despite all this, the Buckeyes' only NCAA tourney title came in 1960.

Brandon Triche had 15 points and Scoop Jardine added 14 for top-seeded Syracuse (34-3), which last reached the Final Four in 2003. That year, Syracuse beat Kansas in the title game, at the Superdome.