The Buckeyes and Spartans faced off in a rubber match in the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament to decide who would face Wisconsin for the Championship. Ohio State pulled away at the end to win 61-58 after a hard fought battle for both teams. Aaron Craft led all scorers with 20 points, and was joined by DeShaun Thomas’s 16 in leading the Buckeyes. Michigan State responded with Derrick Nix (17), Keith Appling (16), and Adreian Payne (12) all scoring in double figures.
Despite starting their previous games sluggishly, both Michigan State and Ohio State came out attacking on defense in this one. Early on, it clearly favored the Spartans, as OSU struggled to find clean looks inside, and DeShaun Thomas couldn’t find his shot from the outside. Eventually, the Bucks began to open it up down low with some great play from Craft and Evan Ravenel. That freed up the shooters on the outside, including LaQuinton Ross continuing his shooting streak from yesterday. Unfortunately, neither team was able to really run away with this one in the first half, and Michigan State went into the locker room with a one point lead after an ill-advised Evan Ravenel final shot.
The back and forth affair continued well into the second half. However, after a first half with functionally no called fouls (OSU had 1 to MSU’s 4) the refs began to call a tighter game in the second. Virtually any contact was whistled, which completely changed the complexion of the game. Not that it was going to stop Aaron Craft from taking over the half on his own. His 17 points through the first 12 minutes of the half was instrumental in keeping the Buckeyes neck and neck with the Spartans. OSU was eventually able to open an 8 point lead late in the half, but it didn’t last long when MSU reset their defense and hit a second-chance trey to close the gap again.
It all came down the final seconds when Michigan State brought the game within one. A flagrant one call on Derrick Nix sent Aaron Craft to the line where he hit one of the two. On the ensuing possession, the Bucks found DeShaun Thomas who sank a critical 18 footer to give OSU the four point lead. MSU was unable to respond with more than a two pointer with only a second left to go.
OSU and MSU are meeting up for the rubber match in the B1G Tournament Semifinals today. This is also a rematch of sorts of last year’s B1G Tournament Championship game that ended up going MSU’s way – the only B1G tournament loss OSU has suffered since before the 2010 season.
Today’s game is scheduled for 4:10 PM EST on CBS. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
Ohio State came into the Big Ten Tournament looking to simply have fun, and they sure found it in a 71-50 drubbing of Nebraska. It didn’t look like it would go that way early, but excellent play to start the second half managed to put the game out of reach. DeShaun Thomas and Sam Thompson led all scorers with 19 points, while LaQuinton Ross saw double figures for only the fourth time in Big Ten play with 11. Nebraska had two players reach double digits with Brandon Ubel’s 16, and Shavon Shields’ 14.
As has appeared to be typical for them this year, the Bucks started the first 10 minutes struggling to find their game. It wasn’t until the mid-point of the first half that the Buckeye point guards began to find their scoring rhythm. Craft and Scott both scored 5 critical points a piece to give the Bucks a one point lead off a 10-0 run. Once they were able to claim the lead, they did not relinquish it again in the half. However, they also weren’t able to build much headway on it when Nebraska switched into a 2-3 zone. It was only in the last few seconds that an ill-advised Nebraska foul* put DeShaun Thomas on the line for three free throws that gave OSU a five point lead.
The Bucks came out of the gate in the second half firing on all cylinders. They completely shut down the Huskers for the opening four and a half minutes and blitzed out on an 11-0 run to start to put the game away. Before too long, the Buckeyes had opened a 24 point lead and began to play games with their lineup. That ended up helping the Huskers out, not surprisingly, as they were able to close the lead back to 16 before Matta brought the majority of his starters back into the game. That only lasted as long as it took to whittle the time down to the point where he felt comfortable enough to give Alex Rogers some time on the floor.
Despite the sloppy start, this kind of finish was exactly what the Buckeyes needed in the start of tournament play. Matta may want them to have a good time, but they still need to play quality Basketball – and there’s nothing stopping them from doing both. They demonstrated that with a vengence today.
The Buckeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament as the #2 seed, earning a first round bye. Their opponent for the second round are the 10th seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers, who notched an impressive 57-55 upset over the 7-seed Purdue Boilermakers yesterday.
Today’s game is scheduled for 6:30 PM EST on ESPN. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
Today was Evan Ravenel’s Senior Day at Ohio State, and while it may not have gone down exactly according to script the Bucks were able to give him a 68-55 win over the Illini as a going away gift. The game as a whole was a sluggish mess for both teams, but the Scarlet and Gray were able to find more consistency more frequently to help secure a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Ohio State was lead in scoring by DeShaun Thomas’ 19, Aaron Craft’s 14, and Lenzelle Smith’s 10. Illinois’ Brandon Paul lead the game with 21 and was joined in double digits by DJ Richardson’s 10.
Considering the result of the game 2 months ago, it was fair to assume that the Buckeyes would come into this game and play with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they instead began with what looked like empty gas tanks. There seemed to be no passion whatsoever, and the Bucks struggled to do much more than simply hang with the Illini. It seemed that OSU was one good run away from putting the game away early, and that run finally started to take shape around the last TV timeout of the half. Some beautiful play, including a behind-the-back save from Shannon Scott to trigger a fast-break, led by a stiffening defense gave the Bucks a nine point lead at the half.
The run did not survive the break in play. Both teams again seemed to sink into a slump coming out of the half. The Buckeyes couldn’t seem to increase their advantage, partially due to poor decision making, and the Illini couldn’t bring it any closer. It was the 30 minute mark of the game before anything started to change. Illinois finally began attacking the interior and the OSU defense yielded easily under the onslaught. Unfortunately for the Illini, they weren’t able to capitalize fast enough on the strategy change before Matta and company were able to make the appropriate defensive adjustments to put a stop to it.
This wasn’t exactly the kind of game I was hoping for from the Bucks today. After getting killed two months ago, I was hoping for a summary execution of the Illini. However, the Buckeyes did continue their late season winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament, which is huge for both tournament seeding and for confidence in the tournaments themselves. Hopefully this team prepares well over the next few days going into postseason play.
It has been 2 months since Illinois put on a devastating beat-down of the Buckeyes in Urbana-Champaign. Now the Buckeyes finally get a chance to avenge the loss.
Today’s game is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST on ESPN. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Urbana and Champaign, IL
Student Population: 40,616 total, 31,932 undergrad
School Type: Public – Land Grant
Stadium: Assembly Hall
Head Coach: John Groce
Experience: 1st year at UI @ U-C
The Buckeyes entered Bloomington on a bit of a hot streak and proved that it was more than just a fluke, up-ending the #2 Indiana Hoosiers 67-58. The game was an epic battle of two great teams and just goes to prove the quality of this conference in no uncertain terms. As has been typical the last few games, the Bucks were lead by DeShaun Thomas (18) and Aaron Craft (15) in scoring. Indiana was lead by Cody Zeller (17) and Christian Watford (12), with Oladipo surprisingly not breaking double digits.
It was clear in the first half that the Buckeyes came into this one prepared. OSU began attacking outright and seemed to take Indiana by surprise. Most critically, the Bucks managed to stick Oladipo with two fouls fairly early, which helped to minimize the impact of the Hoosier offense. Not surprisingly, Indiana did manage to get things moving and forced the Bucks to make adjustments to maintain their three point lead going into the half.
The intensity did not dial itself down in the second half. Both teams fought hard, trading baskets through the majority of the half, and generally taking it to the opposing defense. Neither team allowed the other to build too much of an advantage, but the Buckeyes clearly carried the momentum advantage in the middle of the half. Leading into the final TV timeout, the Bucks took control with several straight baskets including a huge DeShaun Thomas three pointer. The run did eventually end on a Hulls three pointer, but the damage was mostly done.
There is no question that this team has gelled after the crushing loss to Wisconsin. I hate to give the Badgers credit for anything, but this team has really come together to be a solid all-around basketball team in a tough conference. A big win in Bloomington is a huge step for the NCAA tournament resume, since it gives the team a big away victory late in the season when it matters most. Ultimately, this team is peaking at exactly the right time, and hopefully they can carry the momentum through the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.