Behind 12 points, seven rebounds, and four steals from senior point guard Aaron Craft, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Michigan State Spartans 69-67 on senior day at Value City Arena.
The game came down all the way to the final seconds with Michigan State's sophomore guard Gary Harris coming up short on what would have been a game tying jumper.
Craft showed grit down the stretch, diving for a loose ball in the final seconds after an Adreian Payne three-point field goal came up short.
"At that moment, it was what I had to do for our team," Craft said after the game.
On the following possession, Craft played some of his patented defense against Michigan State forward Denzel Valentine. Valentine fumbled the ball and turned it over, giving Ohio State a chance to seal the victory on the final day of the Big Ten regular season.
The other Buckeye honored on senior day was Ohio State guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. He finished the game with nine points and eight rebounds in his final game in Columbus.
Ohio State was forced to play an unfamiliar, up tempo style of basketball all day long.
A fast paced first half was fittingly kicked off with a strong drive to the basketball by Craft.
The Buckeyes trailed late in the first half 31-26 when Ohio State went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead on the Spartans. The run was spearheaded by some tremendous defense from Ohio State's "Man of Steal." Craft snatched his 325th career steal with 4:26 left in the first half, making him the Big Ten's all-time steals leader.
Courtesy: CBS Sports
The theft led to a LaQuinton Ross basket and foul to tie the game at 31.
The Buckeyes eventually took the lead but could not slow down a red hot Adreain Payne, who scored 13 first half points.
The Buckeyes trailed by two at the half, 38-36 with both teams shooting lights out from the field.
The Buckeyes came out quick in the second frame. An 8-1 Ohio State run gave the Buckeyes a 44-39 lead after Craft cut back door for an easy lay in.
The Spartans responded emphatically, however. Michigan State's Harris got on the board for the first time with two seemingly identical three-point field goals from the left corner. In a little over two minutes the Spartans had scored 10 unanswered points to take the lead back, 49-44.
The Buckeyes failed to hit a field goal for more than five minutes of play and it seemed like they were in for another tough loss, until junior forward LaQuinton Ross came alive.
Ross scored three of his 22 points on a close range jumper to pull the Buckeyes within four.
With Ohio State down three, Craft drove to the lane and dished to a wide open Sam Thompson who knocked down a huge three-pointer to tie the game at 58.
After falling behind by five once again, the Buckeyes again threw another punch back towards the Spartans. Shannon Scott got a friendly shooter's roll on a corner three and broke free for an easy basket to tie the game at 65 with 5:14 to play.
Ohio State split two pairs of free-throws down the stretch, which gave Michigan State a chance to respond. The Spartans just were not able to take advantage and fell in the end.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was not pleased with his team's performance after the game. Izzo said this is the most frustrated he's been all season long.
"If any of you guys from Ohio think this is the same smash mouth Michigan State team you're kidding yourself," said Izzo.
Payne finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds in a losing effort.
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