Ohio State edges Michigan State in tourney
by Joe Rexrode, USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO – Certain matchup issues from the Big Ten regular season traveled with these teams to Chicago – just ask Indiana and Michigan, which came up empty against Bo Ryan’s Badgers again.
And just ask Michigan State, which fell victim to a scoring binge from Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft for the second time in three weeks.
Craft scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half of Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal between No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 3 seed MSU, sending the Buckeyes to a 61-58 victory. OSU (25-7) wins the season series with MSU (25-8) and advances to Sunday’s title game against those Badgers.
The Spartans will now await word on their NCAA Tournament seeding and destination, to be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on CBS. MSU is expected to be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed and appears likely to start Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Derrick Nix scored 17 points for MSU, Keith Appling scored 16 and and Adreian Payne 12. But the Spartans got just five points from freshman guard Gary Harris – his first in single digits since Jan. 22 at Wisconsin and his lowest output of the season in which he played a full game.
He was technically scoreless against Boise State on Nov. 20 in one minute, leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
Deshaun Thomas had 16 points for the Buckeyes, including a key offensive rebound and jump shot late to help hold off MSU’s attempted comeback.
The Spartans led 29-28 after a well-played first half for both teams. Nix had 10 of MSU’s points and Appling had eight, with Harris scoreless on four shots.
The teams were called for just five fouls in the half – one on Ohio State – as Ted Valentine and the officiating crew let a lot of contact go uncalled. The Buckeyes were within a point because of five three-pointers, two from Thomas and two from LaQuinton Ross.
Craft started to assert himself defensively early in the second, swiping … [For more on Ohio State edges Michigan State in Big Ten tourney, click here.]