By Matt McCoy
To listen to Thad Matta following Ohio State's 68-60 win over Michigan State click HERE:
When Ohio State lost 59-56 at Michigan State last month, Aaron Craft scored only five points on 2-for-8 shooting. Five of his eight shots were three pointers. In the rematch, the junior point guard changed his strategy.
Slicing through the Spartan defense with aggressive drives to the basket, Craft scored a career high 21 points as the Buckeyes beat the No. 4 Spartans 68-60.
"We saw some things we thought we could take advantage of," said Craft, who finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. "In the first game, I don't think we did a great job of challenging their bigs a little bit in the pick-and-roll and things down the floor. It also helps when guys are knocking down shots from the outside...it opens lanes up and we made some lay-ups today."
Craft did most of his damage in the second half, when he scored 17 points. The Buckeyes, who trailed by six at the break, shot 57 percent after halftime and scored 43 points--their highest scoring half of the Big Ten season.
"Give Aaron Craft credit. In the second half he tore us apart," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "He beat us every way you could beat us."
For most of the season, Buckeye fans have been hoping Craft...or anyone...would step up and become a viable second scoring option to compliment Deshaun Thomas. Whether Craft can have success getting to the basket and scoring every game remains to be seen but it was a welcome sight against the Spartans.
"The reads he was making today were incredible," Coach Thad Matta said. "His teammates helped him too...we had much better spacing than we normally have. It was great to see the ball going in for him and him attacking the rim. I thought he was tremendous today."
We have basketball Bucksline Monday night from 7-8 P.M. with 610 WTVN basketball analyst Tony White. He joined Joel Riley Monday morning to talk about the Buckeye win over Michigan State.
"In the second half Ohio State's defense revved up and they started making shots," Tony said. "They were terrible in the first half in terms of shooting (10-29, 34%)...but in the second half Ohio State's defense got them extra opportunties and then they made those shots...and Aaron Craft was dynamic getting to the rim."
To listen to all of Tony's conversation with Joel click HERE:
My top 25
I moved the Buckeyes up from No. 21 to No. 17 on my ballot this week. They were 18th in the overall AP poll. Here's how I voted this week.
10) Michigan State
13) Kansas State
14) Oklahoma State
15) New Mexico
17) Ohio State
18) St. Louis
21) Notre Dame