Cris Carter: All he does is catch touchdowns.
Matt Sylvester: All he does is make game-winning 3-pointers.
Sylvester knocked down a trey with 5.5 seconds remaining, lifting Ohio State to a 78-76 comeback victory over visiting LSU on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (10-0) trailed 76-66 with under 3:00 remaining. But four consecutive 3-pointers – from Je’Kel Foster, Sylvester, Jamar Butler, and Sylvester again – gave OSU the improbable victory.
Terence Dials led OSU with 24 points and eight rebounds.
Sylvester and Ron Lewis added 14 points apiece for OSU, and Foster finished with 12.
Glen Davis led LSU (7-4) with 25 points.
Also for the Tigers, Darrel Mitchell had 16 points, and Tyrus Thomas had 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
“What a game. I’m still a little numb,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “We didn’t come out and play the way we had hoped to today. I thought we were tentative defensively. I didn’t think we were as active as we needed to be. Offensively, we just never got our flow going.
“I give credit to our guys. We had several chances to crack today and pack our tent and go home and to their credit, they kept playing and made plays.”
On the game-winning possession, Foster drove the lane, but almost lost control of the ball. He then found a wide-open Sylvester in the corner, who is making a habit of clutch 3-pointers (he also made the winning basket in OSU’s win over Illinois last March).
“Je’Kel made a tremendous read and a phenomenal pass to Matt,” Matta said. “Matt did a great job of spacing the floor, ‘Kel sucked his man in and he delivered a perfect pass to him. That was, quite honestly, the third option on the play. I thought Je’Kel may have had the shot coming off the top there and to his credit he faked, drove it and made a great pass.”
Sylvester was asked what was going through his mind when he released the shot.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said. “I was pretty much blank, hoping I’d make the shot.”
It was a tough loss for the Tigers, who controlled the game for most of the way.
“Our team was in position to win the game and we didn’t,” LSU coach John Brady said. “We didn’t close the game as we should have. We lost our composure the last couple minutes.”
The Buckeyes were cold for most of the first half. For the first time this season, they were having trouble knocking down 3-pointers.
The Tigers jumped out of the gates with a 16-10 lead. But Ohio State battled back and took a 20-19 lead on a steal and layup from Foster at the 9:57 mark.
LSU then controlled the next several minutes of the game. The Tigers went on an 18-4 run and took a 37-24 lead.
However, a 7-0 run from the Buckeyes got them back in the game and ignited the raucous Schottenstein Center crowd. The stretch was capped by a 3-pointer from Lewis at the 3:21 mark of the half.
A Butler basket in the closing seconds of the half made the score 43-39 LSU at halftime. Ohio State was just 2 of 9 from 3-point range in the first half. Dials led the way with 14 points and six boards at the break.
“As I told the guys, we played about as bad as we could possibly play in the first half with 11 turnovers,” Matta said.
Dials scored OSU’s first six points of the second half to draw the Buckeyes even at 45-45 with 17:21 left in the game.
But the next five-plus minutes were all LSU. The Tigers went on a 19-6 run to seemingly take control of the game at 64-51 with 11:50 showing on the clock.
However, No. 21 Ohio State would not go away. The Buckeyes trailed by 10 (76-66) with 2:30 remaining and then mounted their comeback. They turned up the pressure defensively, and knocked down 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions.
LSU still had a chance to win after Sylvester’s shot. But Davis’ long jumper at the buzzer missed.
The 6-7 Sylvester entered play shooting just 25 percent from 3-point range. But for whatever reason, he shoots better when the pressure is on.
“I’ve always said this: I think Matt can be a great shooter,” Matta said. “At times, I think he needs to be a little harder on himself and concentrate a little more. But I think when his feet are set and he’s got his shoulders square and his hips square, he can knock those things down. He had a couple big ones down the stretch for us.”
For arguably the first time this season, Ohio State had a true home-court advantage. The announced crowd of 16,136 was extremely loud throughout the game, even when it looked bleak for the Buckeyes.
“Oh yeah. I hope they enjoyed themselves and as we step into the Big Ten, they continue to come out and support these guys,” Matta said. “This group of young men is doing a tremendous job of coming in and working hard and playing hard. I know this: That’s the kind of basketball I enjoy watching and cheering for and there’s no question that we could have never won this basketball game without (the fans).”
Ohio State shot 47 percent from the floor (25 of 53) and 38 percent from 3-point range (7 of 18). The Buckeyes were hot from the free throw line, making 87 percent (21 of 24).
As expected, the bigger and more-physical LSU team had a rebounding edge (35 to 29).
“It felt like it was 105-29 with the way they were getting them,” Matta quipped. “That’s what they do and they do it as well as anybody. They remind me of a Cincinnati team from a couple years ago.”
Ohio State opens Big Ten play Jan. 5 against Penn State at Value City Arena (8 p.m., ESPN Plus).