Deshaun Thomas matched a career-high with 31 points as No. 4 Ohio State captured the Naismith Bracket championship of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic with a 77-66 win over Washington from Mohegan Sun Arena.
Thomas made good on 12-of-20 shot attempts, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, while Aaron Craft added 18 points for Ohio State (3-0), which held a slim 44-39 lead early in the second half before slowly pulling away down the stretch.
C.J. Wilcox scored 18 points and Abdul Gaddy netted 15 for the Huskies (2-2), who advanced to the tournament title game with Saturday's 84-73 overtime victory over Seton Hall.
Ohio State trailed 18-17 eight minutes in before putting together a 14-4 run that turned the 1-point deficit into a 31-22 advantage. The surge was led by Thomas, who poured in eight of his 21 first-half points over that stretch and capped the flurry with a long-range basket with 5:49 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Buckeyes shot 51.5 percent and compiled a splendid 11-to-1 assist- to-turnover ratio in building a 41-31 lead at the break, though the Huskies would cut into their deficit in the initial stages of the second half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Wilcox and Gaddy brought Washington within 44-39 with 17:29 to go, but Ohio State answered with an 8-0 sequence over the next two minutes to bring the margin back to double digits.
Thomas was again instrumental during that time frame, beginning the run with a 3-point play and ending it with a pass to Amir Williams that put the Buckeyes up 51-39. Williams was fouled on the play and converted the bonus shot for a 13-point cushion.
Washington got to within seven points down on two occasions, the last after Wilcox sank another triple to pull the Huskies within 63-56 with 7:30 left to play.
Ohio State answered by scoring 12 of the next 14 points, however, to keep the Huskies at bay.
Thomas also had 31 points in Ohio State's win over Loyola (MD) in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament back on Mar. 15 of last season and is averaging 25 points over the Buckeyes' first three outings ... The schools were meeting for the first time since a 67-63 Washington victory in Seattle on Dec. 1, 1972 ... The Huskies fell to 9-19 against top-10 opponents under head coach Lorenzo Romar and have lost their last six such matchups.