Big X Wins TBT Opener, Former Buckeye C.J. Jackson Makes Game-Winning Basket

Adam Prescott

(Photos by Ben Solomon)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Big X overcame a slow start to win its opener in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) Saturday afternoon, responding to eventually claim a 79-74 victory over alternate D2 following a game-winning bucket from former Ohio State point guard C.J. Jackson inside Nationwide Arena.

The team consisting mainly of former Big Ten alumni and then some, led by Jackson and fellow former Ohio State guard Andrew Dakich (GM/coach), now advances to the second round against Dayton Alumni squad Red Scare this coming Wednesday at 2 p.m. Big X wins at least one game in this event for the third-straight year.

“We were the first basketball in how many months now?” Wake Forest product L.D. Williams said afterward. “We talked about it all week and it’s been on our minds, because we wanted to put a good product on the floor. I thought both teams did a good job of that. Everyone is rusty and we haven’t played under the whistle in a while, so it was good to get the first game out of the way. We are looking forward to doing it again in a couple of days.”

D2, comprised of Division II all-stars and recently inserted to the field after a member of the removed Jackson TN Underdawgs tested positive for coronavirus, won a game themselves last year but was dealt an early blow this time around. Standout big man Taren Sullivan (Findlay) suffered a first-quarter injury and did not return.

Michigan State alum Nick Ward (Gahanna, Ohio) led Big X with 18 points while high school/college teammate Javon Bess added 11.

A collected and well-oriented D2 squad flew out early, taking a 23-11 lead after one quarter to play from in front. Big X ultimately settled in, clawing back leading up to halftime and shrinking the deficit to just 36-30 entering the break.

Dikich’s club stayed the course and finally pulled in front, 46-45, on a dunk from Ward with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter. The contest went to the final quarter with Big X trailing 59-57 as both teams traded scores, leading to a 70-69 showdown entering the notable Elam Ending.

The format consists of turning the off the game clock, adding eight points to the winning team’s current total and developing a “target score.” With Big X in front 70-69, the first team to 78 points would win.

With his team leading 77-74, Jackson collected an initial miss and turned that offensive rebound into a smooth floater in that lane to punctuate the come-from-behind victory.

“Nick (Ward) was pretty much dominating the whole game so they were collapsing on ball screens,” Jackson explained. “I had a few wide-open shots and then that floater at the end. We kept playing and it all worked out for us.”

Big X and Red Scare will compete in the Round of 16 come middle of next week in the winner-take-all event, with a grand prize of $1 million to the emerging team. All games are being played at Nationwide Arena.

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