The Washington Huskies and the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will face off in the Naismith Bracket Championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena as part of the 2012 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.
The Huskies split their first two games at home to start the year, beating Loyola-Maryland, 85-63, and dropping a disappointing 63-62 decision to Albany. Washington's preliminary-round showdown with Seton Hall was going its way early as it built an 18-point lead, but it squandered the advantage in the second half as the game went into overtime. Luckily, UW salvaged the game in the extra session and came away with an 84-73 victory.
Ohio State began the season ranked No. 4 and so far it has done nothing to disprove the notion that it is one of the top teams in the nation. The Buckeyes opened their campaign at home with a 82-60 win over Albany before capturing a 69-58 victory over Rhode Island on Friday night.
Washington leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 8-3, but the teams haven't met since 1972.
Washington built a big lead against Seton Hall thanks to 61.3 percent field goal shooting in the first half, but as well as it played in the opening 20 minutes is about how poorly it performed after the break, as it made just 6- of-18 from the floor in the second half. Luckily the Huskies put it together in overtime by shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Leading five Washington players in double figures was Abdul Gaddy, who also dished out a team-high five assists. Hot on his heels was Scott Suggs with 15 points on 6-of-9 from the field (3-of-5 from three-point range), but he nearly cost his team with five turnovers. Desmond Simmons tallied a double- double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Aziz N'Diaye just missed one with 14 points and nine boards. Rounding out the unit's productive scorers was C.J. Wilcox with 11 points, who went a perfect 5-of-5 at the free throw line.
After shooting better than 57 percent from the floor in its opener, Ohio State regressed to 43.6 percent against Rhode Island. The good news is that a third of its 24 field goals came from beyond the arc (8-of-19), it went 13-of-18 from the free throw line, and it limited its mistakes by committing just seven turnovers. Deshaun Thomas wowed with a double-double of 25 points and 10 boards. Thomas is the Buckeyes' leading scorer on the young season with 22 ppg, and he's hitting nearly 47 percent of his three-point attempts (7-of-15). Lenzelle Smith, Jr. put up 15 points, and Aaron Craft added 13 points, four assists, and two steals. OSU is performing well across the board in the early going, as it is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 5.0 rpg and it has a turnover margin of plus-4.5.