Despite the unexpected return of Jared Sullinger, the Scarlet & Gray team fell 100-78 in the quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament to Team Fredette on Sunday. Whether it was the fact that the former Buckeyes could never get consistency in their lineup throughout the run, or they were just overmatched, Team Fredette just seemed to be a much more polished team on Sunday.
An hour before tip-off, the team officially announced that Sullinger would be in Atlanta and suiting up for the Scarlet & Gray, just a day after getting married. In a pre-game interview, Sully explained that his wife surprised him at their reception on Saturday with airline tickets back to Atlanta for the game. He said that they both understand that this is just another job interview, so they knew how important this opportunity was for his career. However, the last minute travel only allowed Sully two hours of sleep, and unfortunately, it showed.
However, Sullinger did open the scoring with a running, baby hook in the lane. A few minutes later, Greg Oden denied a dunk attempt by Brandon Davies, which led to a William Buford three, giving S&G a 7-2 lead early on.
While much of the attention coming into Sunday’s game was on Sullinger and Oden, David Lighty and William Buford carried the team in the early going. The pair combined for 13 of the team’s 17 points in the first quarter, as they looked to force Jimmer to play defense.
Despite the pair’s efforts, the former BYU star hit a ridiculous buzzer beater to put his team up 21-17 at the end of the first period.
With Sullinger on the bench, still a little drained from his wedding on Saturday, Team Fredette started to take advantage of the mismatched S&G lineup, including an alley-oop from Jimmer to Derek Cooke Jr., putting them up 34-26.
Too many times down the floor, the former Buckeyes settled for a shot early in the clock, rather than working for a better option. However, as the second quarter wound down, Aaron Craft looked to take over, as he did late in Friday’s game. In the last two minutes, the rosy-cheeked point guard had five points in an attempt to keep it close.
Even though Oden only had two points in the first half, it was still exciting to see him put the moves on defenders on the block.
After a Lighty layup with :03 remaining in the half, Jimmer attempted to inbound the ball, but the referees called a phantom violation saying that he was standing on the endline when he made the pass. The turnover led to a foul against Diebler; unfortunately, the ball didn’t lie on the first free throw, as he went 1-2 from the line.
As they had in the first halves of their previous two games, Scarlet & Gray struggled to find their flow in the first two quarters, and went into halftime trailing 51-40. Though they shot a strong 55.6 percent (15-27), the offense didn’t seem to find a rhythm in the first 18 minutes.
Jimmer led all scorers with 12 points at halftime, Davies was next with nine. Lighty (8) and Buford (7) were tops for S&G. One difference between the squads was that the former Buckeyes combined for nine turnovers in the first half to Team Fredette’s six, leading to a 17-6 points off of turnovers advantage for the Fighting Jimmers.
Also, despite S&G having Sullinger, Oden, Dallas Lauderdale, and Evan Ravenel in their rotation, Team Fredette still outscored them in the paint 22-16 in the first half.
Scarlet & Gray tried to pick up the intensity in the first few minutes of the second half, but Team Fredette matched them at every turn. Live ball turnovers led to a number of fastbreaks for Fredette, and with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter Scoonie Penn called timeout to try and regroup his players.
After the timeout, Northern Illinois alum Leon Rodgers entered the game to try and open up the pick-and-pop offense for the Scarlet & Gray. On his first attempt after re-entering the game, Rodgers hit a three to cut the score to 64-50 in favor of Team Fredette.
From there, Craft again attempted to increase his defense intensity in an effort to get his team back in the game.
However, every time that S&G seemed to pickup some momentum, Team Fredette would steal it right back. As the third quarter wound down, Ra’Shad James hit a pair of three-pointers to give his team a 76-64 lead heading into the final break.
The S&G deficit could have been bigger, but after making the first of two free-throws, Craft got his own front-iron rebound on the second, and found Courtney Pigram in the corner who hit a jumper with less than a second remaining.
However, it was not to be for the former Buckeyes, as they simply looked out of gas and out matched by a more cohesive team. With 3:59 on the game clock, the Elam Ending target score was set at 100, with Team Fredette leading 93-74.
Team Fredette will move onto the TBT semifinals on Thursday, Aug. 2 against the winner of Team Challenge ALS and Eberlein Drive.