4:18 PM ET, March 16, 2013
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
CHICAGO -- Aaron Craft dominated down the stretch for Ohio State and just about left his coach speechless in the process.Even though he had seen it before, Thad Matta struggled for a moment to find the right words to describe his point guard. Once he did, he couldn't stop himself. Seems appropriate, considering Michigan State couldn't stop him when it mattered most, either.Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead No. 10 Ohio State past No. 8 Michigan State, 61-58 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
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Aaron Craft excelled in his typical role as orchestrator and distributor for the Buckeyes throughout Saturday's win, writes Myron Medcalf. Blog
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MVP: The Buckeyes have always defended, and always gotten great scoring from Deshaun Thomas, but they spent the first few months of the season desperately looking for someone else to put the ball in the basket. On Saturday, as he was in OSU's upset win at Indiana, Aaron Craft was that player. He went 9 of 13 from the field for 20 points, and added nine assists, four steals and three rebounds, too.
X factor: As Spartans point guard Keith Appling struggled in late February and early March, shooting guard Gary Harris -- the Spartans' best shooter and most naturally talented scorer -- more than picked up the slack. On Saturday, he finished with just five points on 1-of-7 from the field.
That was another sign the Buckeyes are to be feared. Not only is Craft giving the already-good Buckeyes more scoring options, but the Buckeyes have elevated their already-great defense to a top-five level in the last month of the season. No one will want to draw Thad Matta's team in their bracket next week.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-50 (.400)||24-57 (.421)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-14 (.429)||7-24 (.292)|
|FT Made-Attempted||12-15 (.800)||6-12 (.500)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||14 (0/0)||11 (0/0)|