Ohio State benefits from two gaffes by Michigan State
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com March 16, 2013 10:10PM
Ohio State guard Shannon Scott grabs a rebound in the second half of a semi-final game of the Big ten Tournament March 16, 2013 between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 18, 2013 7:11AM
Who will end up being the Big Ten’s toughest outs in the NCAA tournament? That remains to be seen.
Before Saturday, Indiana and Michigan State might have gotten the most votes. Between IU’s imposing roster and Tom Izzo’s deft tourney touch, that still might wind up being the case.
Wisconsin and Ohio State cast dissenting votes Saturday at the United Center. The Buckeyes will face off against the Badgers for the Big Ten tournament title Sunday after knocking off the Spartans 61-58.
Ohio State (25-7) will make its seventh appearance in eight years in the tournament final, where it will try to add a fourth victory.
In a league filled with impressive coaches, Thad Matta doesn’t always get the credit he’s due. But that’s pretty good stuff.
“We played hard, but we weren’t quite as tough as we usually are,’’ Izzo said. “One of the weird things is, we weren’t the smartest team. They were.’’
On a day when shots weren’t falling for Deshaun Thomas (16 points, 6-for-19), the Buckeyes’ best scorer delivered seven rebounds, including a key offensive board with 58 seconds left. Known for defense, guard Aaron Craft (20 points, 9-for-13, nine assists) shouldered a big scoring load.
MSU big man Derrick Nix (17 points, nine rebounds) spoiled a productive day with a flagrant foul toward the end of the game. And Adreian Payne (12 points, eight rebounds) handed the Buckeyes two points by hanging on the rim.
“I’m going to use this a lot, and hopefully it will pay some dividends,’’ said Izzo, intent on building an edge for the NCAA tournament and glad to be finished with the fierce Big Ten. “I still think it helps you. It toughens you. But I’d play the Lakers tomorrow instead of some of the teams I’ve played recently.’’
Ohio State has won seven in a row since it lost 71-49 at Wisconsin on Feb. 17, a game that required some soul-searching.
“There’s a little more juice,’’ Thomas said. “But we know what we have to do. We have to be ready from the tipoff. The last game, we were not ready. We know Wisconsin is going to hold that ball and run clock. Every possession is key.’’