PITTSBURGH – Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead second-seeded Ohio State to a 78-59 victory over Loyola, Md., on Thursday night in the second round of the East Regional.
Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes (28-7), who dominated the smaller Greyhounds inside, finishing with a 49-24 rebound advantage.
Ohio State will play seventh-seeded Gonzaga in the third round Saturday at the Consol Energy Center.
The Buckeyes twice took a 15-point lead in the first half. The Greyhounds got within 42-31 at halftime but the Buckeyes went on to lead by as many as 20 in the second half.
Erik Etherly had 19 points for the Greyhounds (24-9), the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, who were in the tournament for the second time and first since 1994.
The Greyhounds made a run against Ohio State’s reserves, closing within 70-59 with 2:18 to play. Ohio State coach Thad Matta put Thomas, Sullinger and Buford back in the game and the Buckeyes closed with an 8-0 run, the last six points on two 3-pointers by Buford, who had three of Ohio State’s five 3s.