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Powerful Ohio State crushes George Mason

CLEVELAND -- Over on George Mason's bench, a few players were mocking Jared Sullinger, Ohio State's freshman star, who was frustrated and fuming.

The Buckeyes were trailing and appearing vulnerable in the early moments of Sunday night's's third-round game. The Patriots were getting physical, talking trash and taking it right at the East Regional's top-seeded team -- the team with no obvious weaknesses -- and Sullinger, who had three quick turnovers.

That's when Ohio State's center bumped Patriots forward Ryan Pearson from behind and whispered some shocking news.

"It's over, yo," Sullinger said, waving his hands.

And it was, yo.

Cleveland native David Lighty made all seven of his three-pointers and scored 25 points, Sullinger and William Buford added 18 apiece and Ohio State made 16 threes while again showing that it's the team to beat in this NCAA Tournament with a jaw-dropping 98-66 win.

Sullinger chalked up his comment to Pearson as "the heat of battle." In the postgame news conference, the freshman made yet another startling comment. "We can play better," he said.

It would be hard to imagine a better performance than the one Ohio State put on before thousands of its fans, who didn't miss any opportunity to fill Quicken Loans Arena with chants of "O-H-I-O." With ruthless precision, the Buckeyes (34-2) took apart the eighth-seeded Patriots (27-7), who created some March mayhem five years ago and hoped to follow Butler's lead by taking out a No. 1 seed in this tourney.

Ohio State destroyed any upset plans and moved a step closer to its first national title since 1960. The Buckeyes will meet Kentucky (27-8) in a regional semifinal Friday in Newark.

After falling behind 11-2, the Big Ten champions used their devastating inside-outside attack to post the most lopsided tournament victory in school history. Ohio State outscored George Mason 50-15 over the final 16 minutes of the first half with a dazzling display of firepower.

The Buckeyes had a 10-0 run, a 16-0 burst and made five three-pointers during the final five minutes on the way to opening a 52-26 halftime lead.

"Every time I looked up,'' Lighty said, "everybody was hitting a jumper or a three or something."

Jon Diebler, the Big Ten's career leader in three-pointers, closed the half with one of his patented line drives from beyond the arc. He let out a primal scream and ran off the floor with the Buckeyes. As Sullinger promised, it was over.

Freshman guard Aaron Craft came off the bench and sparked Ohio State with 15 assists, many of them to the wings as the Buckeyes finished 16-for-26 behind the arc.

The challenge was daunting enough for the Patriots before they found out before the game that they would be without Luke Hancock, who had food poisoning. The sophomore guard, who scored 18 points against Villanova, came to the arena but got dizzy and was kept out.

George Mason was in way over its head against the nation's best all-around team.

"They're the toughest squad that we faced," Pearson said. "When they got guys hitting on all cylinders, all night long, and they're sharing the ball and they're just going out there and having fun, it's kind of tough for the opponent to stop.

"I think they're going to go real far in this tournament."

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