NCAA BK

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 - 4:05 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Craft leads OSU into Big Ten final

Breaking down the Big Ten's top teams
Breaking down the Big Ten's top teams
Share This Story

   
 

CHICAGO (AP)

Aaron Craft dominated down the stretch for Ohio State and just about left his coach speechless in the process.

CBK

FOX BRACKET CHALLENGE

The tournament has kicked off.
Click here to check on the status of your bracket.

Even though he had seen it before, Thad Matta struggled for a moment to find the right words to describe his point guard. Once he did, he couldn't stop himself. Seems appropriate, considering Michigan State couldn't stop him when it mattered most, either.

Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead No. 10 Ohio State past No. 8 Michigan State, 61-58 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

"You look at what he's accomplished thus far in his career at Ohio State and just the wins and the big plays that he's made — in coaching, you don't get to coach a lot of guys like him just from A to Z and everything he stands for," Matta said. "He kind of makes us go on both ends of the floor. Obviously, he was making shots. A lot of people panicked when he wasn't scoring in the middle of the season, and I'm like, `I don't have a problem with it. It'll come.' He loves these types of games, there's no question about it. He's big for us."

Craft keyed a seven-point spurt midway through the second half that stretched the lead to 55-47, and the Buckeyes (25-7) came away with the win after the Spartans (25-8) pulled within one. The victory avenged a loss in last year's championship game

It was 57-56 after Derrick Nix converted a three-point play for Michigan State with 1:54 remaining, but Craft hit a free throw. Thomas grabbed a huge rebound off a missed 3 by Shannon Scott to keep the possession going and scored in the paint after a timeout to make it a four-point game, sending the Buckeyes back to the conference final.

CBK CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

HERE'S A TIP

Check out the latest scores and automatic bid winners from all the conference tournaments.

They'll go for their third championship in four years when they meet No. 22 Wisconsin, a 68-56 winner over top-seeded and third-ranked Indiana in the other semifinal.

Craft scored all but two of his points in the second half. He also had nine assists and four steals in the game.

"Just trying to believe in myself," he said. "I think we have a lot of plays that we can execute that get me open shots and help me create for someone else."

Thomas scored 16 even though he hit just 6 of 19 shots — 2 of 11 3-pointers — and the Buckeyes won their seventh straight.

Nix led Michigan State with 17 points and nine rebounds. Keith Appling scored 16 points, but the Spartans came up short in this one. Gary Harris finished with five points, and coach Tom Izzo said he "popped" his shoulder. That certainly did not make things easier. But Izzo didn't have to search long and hard to find a bright spot after this loss.

"I am really looking forward to playing somebody else," he said. "I think the other Big Ten teams are. We've really beaten the hell out of each other. I really believe the toughest teams, the ones who have been through the most, is going to benefit. I'm looking forward to playing anybody. I'd rather play the Lakers tomorrow instead of these teams we've played recently."

In a game that was neck-and-neck for about the first 29 minutes, Craft gave Ohio State some breathing room when he scored on a layup and a pair of jumpers to cap a seven-point spurt and make it 55-47 with 7:22 remaining.

Michigan State hung in, and things got real interesting when the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Nix converted that three-point play with 1:54 left.

"When we get the ball into Nix and our inside guys, a lot of good things happen — especially when the ball is in Nix's hands," Michigan State's Branden Dawson said.

Not enough good things happened for the Spartans, though. So Ohio State is moving on.

Wisconsin handed the Buckeyes their most lopsided loss of the season when they fell 71-49 in Madison on Feb. 17. Since then, they've lost.

"We stayed together as a team and we played hard," Thomas said. "We know not to give up and to stay together when things are going down."

Tagged: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio, Derrick Nix, Aaron Craft

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..