Matta Updates Sullinger’s Injury After Victory Over SC
By Brandon Castel
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was in a joking mood after recording his 200th win with the Buckeyes, but only after making sure his star big man was going to be all right.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I haven’t even talked to (trainer Vince O’Brien), they just said he’s OK,” Matta told reporters immediately following Ohio State’s 74-66 win over South Carolina.
After coming off the bench in Ohio State’s win over USC-Upstate on Wednesday night, preseason All-American Jared Sullinger made his first start since the Duke game, when he experienced back spasms after a 22-point victory in Columbus.
Sullinger scored three points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in the opening minutes of the game, but suddenly limped off the court with an apparent injury to his left foot. After being treated on the bench, Sullinger attempted to re-enter the game in Columbia, but eventually had to leave the game for X-Rays.
“Jared got taken out because he wasn’t playing defense today,” Matta joked after the game.
“He has no problems, he’s perfectly fine. We sent him to the showers because he would not defend.”
More like he could not defend.
Sullinger, who was just now getting over the back injury that kept him out for two games, had a noticeable limp as he left the court and headed for the locker room. It looked like he might have aggravated something, but Matta said it was a whole new injury that kept Sullinger from playing against the Gamecocks.
“He has a bone bruise on his foot. He got kicked on the play—not belligerently—happenstance that someone kicked his foot,” Matta said.
“They took him and X-Rayed him. We were trying to find out who had him, the South Carolina doctors or our doctors, because we thought they may tie him down to the X-Ray machine.”
Matta said the injury was likely to the side of Sullinger’s foot, as opposed to the top.
watched most the game from the end of the OSU bench
Photo by Jim Davidson
After leaving the arena to have his foot X-Rayed, Sullinger returned to the court on crutches and wearing street clothes. It looked like another unfortunate break for the Buckeyes, who have had to deal with serious injuries to Greg Oden, David Lighty and Evan Turner in recent years.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 in the country, and might be ranked No. 1 overall if not for Sullinger’s absence from last week’s game at Kansas. Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self said he thought Ohio State was still a top-10 team even without their star sophomore, but it took a 30-point effort from sophomore Deshaun Thomas to help them overcome the loss of Sullinger against South Carolina.
“We told our guys we had to have more of a presence in the paint and needed to have more north and south than east and west,” Matta said.
“Went to some actions where we moved the zone more and wanted to put them in a position to make decisions instead of us making decisions.”
Thomas joined Carl Landry and Roger Powell as the only Big Ten players in last 15 yrs to go 10-for-10 or better from 2-pt range, but the Buckeyes also received key contributions from junior Evan Ravenel (5pts, 3reb) and freshman Amir Williams (6pts, 4reb).
“I think Evan did a pretty good job. He got sped up a couple times. We need him to do a better job taking care of the ball, but Amir Williams came in there and really gave us a boost,” Matta said.
“His presence in there, and we’ve been seeing him getting better and better and better. He had a pretty good feel for what was going on, finished down around the basket and had a couple deflections and a couple rebounds, which was big for us.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Williams has seen some extended playing time because of the injuries to Sullinger, and is finally starting to flash some of the potential Matta and his assistants saw when they recruited him out of Country Day High School in Beverly Hills, Mich.
“Last Saturday I thought he played well at Kansas,” Matta added.
“We’ve always said this, we think Amir is going to be a great player at Ohio State.”
As of now they are hoping he won’t have to be a great player for the Buckeyes this season. As long as Sullinger is healthy, he won’t come off the court much, but there are serious question marks about his wellbeing, despite positive signs after the game.
“He thinks he’ll be fine,” Matta said.
“The doctors will have him on some anti-inflammatories or whatever it is. They have these stem things they can do. We’re just fortunate there wasn’t any kind of break in there.”
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