by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
Prior to the season, all of the talk about this year’s incoming freshmen class centered around Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving. Lost in the shuffle was the premier freshman big man Jared Sullinger. After his dominating performance on Tuesday night against Florida, Sullinger is forgotten no more.
In the first battle of top-10 teams this season, No. 4 Ohio State went to Gainesville and dismantled No. 9 Florida, 93-75. Doing much of that damage was Sullinger, who recorded his second double-double in as many games with a 26-point, 10-rebound performance. Sullinger has officially had his coming out part, and through two games he’s averaging 22.5 ppg and 12.0 rpg while shooting a remarkable 70.4 percent from the field.
While the Buckeyes looked like a legitimate Final Four contender on Tuesday, Sullinger showed that he could give the school back-to-back National Player of the Year awards.
The Buckeyes shots 63 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range. Sullinger, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound freshman with soft hands, and Lighty, a senior with a deft shooting touch, did the most damage.
Sullinger was 13 of 17 shooting and added 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards. He abused Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus in the paint, scoring on layups, dunks and short jumpers. His only weakness came at the foul line, where he missed both attempts.
Some questioned Ohio State’s high preseason ranking after the team lost Evan Turner, but with a group of talented freshman, this team has started to remind some of the ’06-07 team that went to the National Championship. With Sullinger, this group of Buckeyes have already done something they couldn’t do that year: beat Florida.