And The Chase Continues…
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.
The Spartans and Buckeyes played yet another late season game for the ages. Despite not coming down to a last second shot, the Buckeyes still needed to hold on late to secure the 68-60 victory. Aaron Craft put down 21 points and 6 assists, DeShaun Thomas dropped 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Evan Ravenel added ten points of his own. Michigan State freshman Gary Harris led the way for the Spartans with 14 points and 5 rebounds, and was joined in double figures by Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix who both scored 12.
Not surprisingly, the first half was a fast paced affair for both squads. Despite Michigan State’s excellent shooting percentage for the half – just shy of 50% – they weren’t able to open a big lead on the Buckeyes due to turnovers and solid defensive play from the Scarlet and Gray. It all began to unravel at the end of the half, though, as Michigan State took advantage of sloppy decision making from the Bucks to open up a six point lead going into the lockers.
For a brief period, it looked like the Spartans were going to continue the streak from the end of the first half. A quick timeout from Matta allowed the Buckeyes to reset their defense and begin to chip away at the lead. That turned into an OSU lead on a Lenzelle Smith triple with 13 minutes left in the game. That was a part 24-8 run to give the Buckeyes a double digit lead. It was a lead the Buckeyes would not relinquish for the remainder of the game – though not for lack of trying on the Spartan’s part.
After the Minnesota game, we weren’t certain if this team would take the next step. I think it’s safe to say that they’ve now done that. I expect that the Bucks will likely go 2-1 over the next three heading into the Big Ten Tournament, but a win at Indiana could make a huge difference in the outlook for this team this year. We’ll have to see what happens, but things are promising right now.
The Buckeyes are coming off an impressive home win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The question remains, though, if it’s enough to carry them to victory today against the much more game Michigan State Spartans.
Today’s game is scheduled for 4 PM EST on CBS (oh joy…). The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
The revolving door that is known as the Top 25 continued to revolve this week. 4 of the 5 Top 5 teams all loss, including Kansas who has now lost three in a row. In addition to the top 5 teams laying an egg, 14 of the 25 teams lost at least one game this week, with 5 of them not even picking up a single win. All was not bad though in the Top 25 world. There were several great games and several overtime games, including a stunning 5 overtime in the Big East. The Miami Hurricanes continued to come on like gang-busters and very well could be in the Top 5 when all is said is done with the polls this week. This week doesn’t look like it will let us down as there are quite a few Top 25 matchups and tough games against un-ranked opponents. Only time will tell how this week will end up but in the meantime, I am just going to sit back and enjoy one of the most exciting college basketball seasons that I can remember.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review
1. Indiana (20-3, 8-2) Previous Rank: 3
Past Week: 2/7 @ Illinois, L 72-74
Upcoming: 2/10 @ (10) Ohio State & 2/13 Nebraska & 2/16 Purdue
The Hoosiers were the latest Number One team to fall. A beautifully ran inbounds play by Illinois sunk Indiana. It doesn’t get any easier this week as they travel to Columbus to face the Buckeyes.
2. Florida (19-3, 9-1) Previous Rank: 4
Past Week: 2/5 @ Arkansas, L 69-80 & 2/9 Mississippi State, W 83-58
Upcoming: 2/12 Kentucky & 2/16 @ Auburn
Florida lost its chance to be the top ranked team with a loss to Arkansas earlier this week. A trip to Lexington to face Kentucky could spell out another loss this week. Read More
Two evenly matched teams are squaring off today in East Lansing. We’re hoping, of course, that Sparty can “Sparty No!” themselves a few extra times for good measure.
Today’s game is scheduled for 6:00 PM EST. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
The Buckeyes take their first trip to Spartyland since William Buford sank that dagger three to lift the Buckeyes last March. MSU has another solid team this year, so let’s take a look.
|School:||Michigan State University|
|Location:||East Lansing, MI|
|Student Population:||47.954 total, 36,675 undergrad|
|School Type:||Public – Land Grant|
|Head Coach:||Tom Izzo|
|Experience:||Forever (18th year, actually)|