Johnson's Flyers get best of Sullinger's Buckeys

Johnson's Flyers get best of Sullinger's Buckeys
March 21, 2014, 3:45 pm
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BROOKLYN — At first Chris Johnson was just happy with the bragging rights that came about when his alma mater, Dayton, knocked off Jared Sullinger's Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

But the more Johnson thought about it, "I might give him (Sullinger) a Dayton shirt to wear for a day."

As much as players focus on the upcoming games nearing the end of the season, they can't help themselves in keeping tabs on their former colleges and how they are faring in the NCAA Tournament.

Both players had words to say leading up to the game, but could not watch it because they were in route to tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets.

"We kept updates on our phone," Johnson recalled.

That is until the wi-fi went out in the closing seconds of the game.

So they didn't find out who won until they were off the plane, which was around the time that Johnson recalled Sullinger not being quite as boisterous as he was prior to Dayton's 60-59 win.

"But before, he was talking all that smack," said Johnson who added, "I'm not gonna brag too much."

The Flyers advanced to the second round where they will face 3-seeded Syracuse with the winner moving on to the Sweet 16.

"We have to focus on the next one," Johnson said.

Even though Ohio State's season came to an end certainly sooner than they or Sullinger would have liked, he was quick to give Dayton praise for the win.

"I'm happy for Dayton," said Sullinger who grew up in Columbus, Ohio. "They needed a win like this."

In addition, Sullinger had a number of connections with players on the Flyers roster.

Dayton junior Jordan Sibert is a transfer from Ohio State where he played with Sullinger on the Buckeye's 2012 Final Four team. Sullinger also played high school basketball with Dayton big men Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott.

"So I'm just happy for those guys," Sullinger said. "Those guys played a part in my high school career and my college career."

Because of those bonds, the taste of defeat in seeing his beloved Buckeyes go down isn't quite so bitter.

"If we're going to lose, I wouldn't mind losing to a team like Dayton," said Sullinger who was also close to Dayton head coach Archie Miller (a former assistant at Ohio State).