Sam Thompson: "We're still Ohio State."

Sam Thompson: "We're still Ohio State."

Down 18 points to Nebraska in the second half of the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, Ohio State found itself with an all too familiar feeling. But the Buckeyes bounced back with a furious comeback and walked away with a win, which Sam Thompson said was a reminder to not count out Ohio State.

Sitting in his corner locker as the usual throng of media surrounded Ohio State star Aaron Craft, Sam Thompson scrolled through his phone and replied to a few congratulatory text messages.

But when approached about the technical foul that had been called on LaQuinton Ross in the Buckeyes' 71-67 comeback win over Nebraska just moments prior in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, Thompson's eyes immediately lit up.

"We didn't like the physical play. We didn't like that they were jumping around on their bench and dancing on their bench," Thompson told BuckeyeSports.com. "We're still Ohio State. That's a team that's beaten us one time and all the power to them for that win, but we don't feel that they should have that type of confidence against us."

Thompson's message may have been directed toward the Cornhuskers, but it applied to the rest of the Big Ten as well. Ohio State may have came to Indianapolis as the No. 5 seed as the result of a 10-8 record in Big Ten play, but dramatic victories in the first two rounds of the conference tournament have landed the Buckeyes back in semifinals and on the verge of a sixth consecutive conference title game appearance.

Thompson's words literally said it, but the Buckeyes' actions have backed them up. They're still Ohio State. And just as they have in each of the past two seasons, they're pearking at the right time.

"We've definitely hit our stride and we've hit it at the right time," Thompson said. "Throughout my time here, we've always hit our stride around this time towards the end of the Big Ten season and the Big Ten tournament and onto the NCAA (Tournament)."

If the rest of the Big Ten thought that they were getting a different Buckeyes squad this March, Ohio State gave them reason to believe as much.

The Buckeyes had struggled throughout the regular Big Ten season, enduring five losses in a six-game stretch in January before ending February and starting March with consecutive losses to Penn State and Indiana. Ohio State, however, managed to muster some momentum with a senior day win over Michigan State on March 9, and while it hasn't played perfectly in Indianapolis, the Buckeyes have found a way to survive and advance for two rounds thus far in the Circle City.

"We definitely gotta have an attitude. Even with that team right there, ever since I've been here, that team has never beat us," Ross said of Nebraska, who toppled OSU in Lincoln on Jan. 20. "They beat us this year on their home court and stormed the court. That was one of the things we talked about before the game -- just to have that image in our heads of what they did."

If Friday was the Buckeyes issuing a statement to the Huskers, Saturday will give them an opportunity to do the same to the entire nation.

Taking on the tournament's top seed in Michigan, Ohio State will need to pick up a win over the nation's eighth-ranked team in order to advance to the conference tournament championship game. A victory over the Wolverines would not only give the Buckeyes their highest ranked win of the season, but would also do plenty to prove Thompson's theory that once again, this is the same OSU squad we've become accustomed to seeing this time of year.

"It's a chance to beat The Team Up North," Thompson said. "They're a team that we expect everything from in March. They're the team that won the Big Ten (regular season) championship. They're a team that we're not happy about losing to. It's another opportunity to beat them for one and then continue our goal of trying to win the Big Ten tournament."

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