In a rough, physical first half, Sullinger led the Buckeyes with 11 points — three from the free throw line — and eight rebounds, playing much of the first 20 minutes with gauze in his nose to stop a nose bleed.
"That was one of the big things we talked about — don't foul him," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "You've got to give him a little space and just put your arms up because he's going to come at you."
But Richmond, another highly recruited freshman, traded shots and boards with the big Buckeye.
After Illinois trailed 20-12 with just under 10 minutes left in the half, Richmond scored on three straight possessions, all in heavy traffic under the basket, to cut Ohio State's lead to 20-18.
Sullinger, though, answered with 8:12 to play with a strong, two-handed dunk.
"He's tough," Davis said. "He's bigger than I thought he was."
Illinois closed the first half with an 8-0 run, the last points coming from Brandon Paul's jumper on the break that made the score 34-33.
Much of the run, though, was a direct result of work by Richmond.
He started it with a short basket after grabbing the rebound off Tisdale's miss with 2:24 to play, cutting the Buckeyes' lead 33-28.
On Illinois' next possession, Richmond fed Davis for a dunk that trimmed the deficit to three.
With 54 seconds to play, Richmond buried a short basket over Sullinger, forcing the Buckeyes' freshman to the floor in the process.
"I thought we had them the whole way," a downbeat Richmond said. "We knew at halftime they were going to make a run. They're a good team, but I felt like we had them."
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
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