In the wake of the somewhat surprising loss -- given what Ohio State had done the previous weekend, winning dominantly over inferior teams, losing 62-60 to Kentucky wasn't an anticipated outcome -- Jared Sullinger intently, measuredly let his anger and disappointment out, like a pressure cooker slowly but surely getting its lid loosened.
The Ohio State freshman was equal parts defiant and emphatic in the Buckeyes' locker room. He intermittently sipped on his blue, Mountain Berry Blast Powerade and proclaimed he was coming back. For 30 minutes, Sullinger took questions, promised his sophomore season would happen, and took ownership of his team's loss. In that moment, he took over the leadership role.
"I'm gonna be here, gonna be at Ohio State next year," Sullinger said when asked about his future. He further explained: "I don't like the look in peoples' eyes [right now] and I don't like the taste we have of losing. I don't appreciate losing. If I made a decision about [leaving] next year, it would be off a win, not a loss."
Sullinger played 39 of 40 minutes, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds; it was his 18th double-double on the year, tying a school record. Thanks to the equally inspired and fiery play of his counterpart, Kentucky's Josh Harrellson, Sullinger was emotional and bombastic throughout the game. Whether he realized it or not, Harrellson likely catalyzed Sullinger to another level. This was stemmed from the Kentucky big man firing a ball off Sullinger in the first half as he was falling out of bounds. It was a legal-but-punctuating play that set the tone for the remainder.
"We don't like the taste that we have in our mouth right now," Sullinger said. "Losing is not what we do and it's not what we accept. To take this jersey off and see Dave Lighty and Eddie Days and Dallas Lauderdale and Jon Diebler take off their jersey for the last time is very touching, because they won't be able to put this jersey back on."