It was only inches that separated the basketball Buckeyes from pulling off an amazing victory Tuesday night at the Breslin Center. As Ohio State guard Shannon Scott grabbed a steal and raced ahead of the pack, it looked like he would for sure cap off a comeback that would make the Notre Dame game look like child's play. Scott came up just short as his shot rolled off the rim, and Ohio State fell, 72-68, in overtime.
The Buckeyes looked over matched and unenthusiastic all game long until about the 7-minute mark of the second half. Adreian Payne, who came off the bench after aggravating his plantar fasciitis in pregame, put down a monstrous slam dunk to cap off an 8-0 Spartan run that put Michigan State ahead 50-34 a little more than halfway through the second half of play. With seven minutes to play, Ohio State trailed by a season high margin of 17 points by the score of 55-38.
Aside from Aaron Craft's usual grit-and-grind style of play, the Buckeyes had appeared to check out of the game and they looked like they were headed for a blowout loss. With the score 55-41 Spartans, Sam Thompson went off and gave Ohio State a much needed spark off the bench. Thompson connected on three consecutive buckets, including a run out lam that cut the lead down to eight, 55-47.
After an alley-oop slam from Craft to Thompson cut the lead to six, Aaron Craft went into beast mode. He drove hard to the rim and reversed a lay-up off the window to convert plus a foul. On a wild scramble for a loose ball, Craft flew through the air as only Aaron Craft can do to grab the live ball and call a timeout.
Craft's heady play out of the timeout to throw it off Adreian Payne's backside on the inbounds play led to an easy hoop and gave the Buckeyes a shot to tie it late.
The Buckeyes capped a 20-3 run to end regulation when Amir Williams slammed home an Aaron Craft miss on a drive to the bucket. Williams was big on the boards, finishing with 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Still, Ohio State needed to come up with five more minutes after Adreian Payne made a great play to knock Shannon Scott's game-winning attempt away just as it rolled off the rim in order to preserve the tie and Michigan State's chances in overtime.
The Spartans came out in overtime and continued to shoot the three ball well just as they had been doing in regulation. After Ohio State took a brief lead, Michigan State freshman Kenny Kaminski stroked his third three-pointer of the game to give the Spartans a two-point lead of their own. Adreian Payne followed that up with three of his 18 points from the right wing. Payne finished the ball game 7-14 from the field on a bad foot.
The story of the game early and late was the dominance of the Michigan State backcourt, however. Senior guard Keith Appling finished with 20 points and 7 assists including the dagger three ball right in Shannon Scott's face with 34 seconds to play in overtime after Sam Thompson had tied it.
Freshman forward Marc Loving added 10 points off the bench, but his last second attempt at a three-pointer came up short as he failed to draw a foul.
Sam Thompson finished the game with 18 points, just two shy of tying a career high.
Ohio State returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 12 when the Iowa Hawkeyes head to Columbus for a 1:30 p.m. tip at Value City Arena.