Three Things: Michigan State

By Chris Lauderback on March 9, 2014 at 7:17p

The basketball Buckeyes picked up a huge win on senior day in the Schott, wrapping up the conference regular season slate with a 10-8 record and on the verge of a 4-seed in next week's B1G tournament if Wisconsin can take care of business at Nebraska tonight. 

With the postseason just four days away, let's briefly look at three things that stood out in Aaron Craft's (and Lenzelle Smith Jr.'s) last game in front of the home crowd. 


Yes, this kid can be more frustrating that someone using self-checkout that clearly can't even operate a lighter but LaQuinton Ross came up big this afternoon. 

Ross poured in 22 points on 9/15 shooting, scoring 32% of the team's points. His effort was overshadowed by Craft-mania but Ohio State obviously loses this game by double digits without Q. 

Ross helped keep Ohio State in the game early with 13 points in the 1st half and added nine more in a hotly defended final 20 minutes, points the Buckeyes had to have with OSU 2nd leading scorer on the season, Smith, contributing exactly zero points on just two shots. 

Quietly, Ross has 60 points over his last three outings, on 53% shooting no less, earning 27 trips to the stripe in the process. Could he in the midst of a March to remember? His inconsistency makes that far from certain but it's crucial Ohio State's most productive scorer is feeling good now that we're down to nothing but survive-and-advance games. 


Too many times this season, an opponent has unleashed a big run on the Buckeyes and they haven't had an answer, sometimes showing surprisingly little fight. Today, Ohio State was knocked down by repeated Sparty runs but on this day, they had the mental toughness to regroup and respond. 

The first example this afternoon came as Michigan State used an 11-2 run to take a 31-26 lead with a little over five minutes left in the half. The Buckeyes were in the midst of missing nine of 11 shots with a turnover and things were looking shaky. 

Instead of packing it in, OSU turned up the defense. Smith grabbed a board and fed Ross for a bucket before the Buckeyes registered three straight steals, netting five points, to cap a 7-0 run putting the good guys back in front, 33-31. Craft was sensational during the sequence as he picked up a loose ball and drove the length of the court to find Ross for an and-1 before Sam Thompson found the senior off a steal of his own for a nifty finish. The run kept OSU close, 38-36, at intermission.

After taking a 44-39 lead five minutes into the 2nd half, Sparty went on another run, this time a 14-2 haymaker, to lead 53-46 with 12:47 left. Again, unfazed by the deficit, the Buckeyes countered with a 12-5 to tie the score at 58 with 8:33 left in regulation. 

After a Ross bomb from way downtown gave OSU four quick points, Amir Williams came up with a rare steal leading to a pair of Shannon Scott free throws. A few minutes later, Ross hit again and a Scott steal produced a free throw from Thompson to make it 58-55 bad guys. Craft then got into the act with a sick drive and kick to Thompson for a triple to cap the run. 

Coming off back to back losses, it was nice to see the team fight back multiple times after Sparty runs put their backs against the wall. Doing so today set the stage for a final seven minutes of frenetic defense to key the win. 


Down 65-60 after a Payne alley-oop dunk with 6:58 remaining, Ohio State put on an incredible defensive display, closing the game on a 9-2 run, to escape with the 69-67 victory. 

Sparked by Craft and Scott out top, the Buckeyes had a hand in forcing Sparty to miss five of their six field goal attempts with five turnovers during the decisive stretch. 

After a Williams free throw gave Ohio State a 68-67 lead with :37 left and Payne tried to counter with a triple, Craft made the play of the day as he dove on the floor for the loose rebound and smart enough not to waste a timeout, he let Sparty tie him up for a jump ball since OSU had the possession arrow. 

On the final possession of the game, Craft stayed up in the grill of Gary Harris, forcing the miss to secure his 117th win as a Buckeye. 


Comments Show All Comments

Liening's picture

Nice game for Craft to have for his last home game.  What fun it is watching him play.


+6 HS
bucksfan92's picture

For all the mental toughness they displayed on defense, it was an epic choke job on the offensive side.  2-8 FTs down the stretch? This team is bobbing along just barely above the surface.  I sense a first round exit in the NCAA tourney for this team, they just don't have what all of Matta's previous teams have had. A grit and desire to win no matter what.

-4 HS
Patriot4098's picture

To be fair, they showed that grit and desire today.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

+8 HS
Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

They don't have grit? That's how they won today.

+4 HS
AirAssaultBuckeye's picture

And the most frustrating part too is how much they keep missing front ends.  Then there was I believe the near-miss posterization of Payne by Sam which turned out to be a great foul because, gee looky there, two clanks on the ensuing free-throws.  The Madness always boils down to match-ups so I will have to withhold run predictions until then but if they can't make free-throws we could be out day 1.

Rendezvous With Destiny

+1 HS
NitroBuck's picture

These Bucks have plenty of grit and desire.  They just don't shoot well.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
bucknut94's picture

Are the banners on the Eleven Warriors website advertising Excedrin and Catheters trying to tell me something? I know watching the Buckeyes can causes me some stress but not that serious.

+4 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Too funny - never noticed that before but I will tell you that seeing the Asian Singles banner at the top coupled with the Zoosk ads really evens things out.

+3 HS
TLB's picture

This team will make the sweet 16.

+5 HS
OHIOST1087's picture

A 69-97 win? Chris I think you got the 2011 senior day ["Deal With It Bo!"] on your mind. Here's a link to video of the senior day pregame program (via btn).

Chris Lauderback's picture

C'mon, what's 30 points between friends? Fixed. I chalk it up to Freudian Finger. 

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Michigan State was also up 38-36 at the half.  And it took two consecutive trips to the free throw line at the beginning of the second half to tie it up.

We are going to need to make those free throws in the tourney...  great win though.

mrspray's picture

The FTs have to be a mental thing... Except for Trey McDonald, I feel like they have been pretty consistent, but that was flat out bad today...

In case you're curious, it's Mr. Spray

+1 HS
Unky Buck's picture

The free-throws at the end were probably some of the more frustrating things to watch all game. That game could've been wrapped up but we still allowed them to have a game winning FG if they wanted. They definitely to get that back to respectable now that we're in tournament time.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Buckeye in the ATL's picture

What an up and down regular season.  Human nature makes us second guess those who are in the spotlight and are susposed to win everytime we watch.  We bitch and moan and post terrible things about people we not know personally and feel justified simply because we expect the W.  That said, I'm really happy to see our two seniors win out on senior day against such a worthy opponet (even though as Chis points out if not for Mr. Ross we'd come away with a L).    Let's hope the team takes the momentum into the BIG tourney and makes better memories for us than the regular season.  Win or lose I'm proud of the team.  Go Bucks!

Buckeye in the ATL

+3 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Our 2 seniors put forth quite a defensive effort. LSJ held Harris scoreless until the 2nd half and Appling only had 2 points. 

+2 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Our guards give us a real good chance at a W when they play this level of defense. The trio of Craft, Smith and Scott are absolute NIGHTMARES for their opponent's backcourt and coach.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
TheSpiteHouse's picture

Good points. LSJ had a quiet 2nd half offensively, but his defense was superb almost all night.

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

What I've noticed, more than anything this season, is that hitting shots makes a team and its coach look REALLY GOOD. Missing shots makes a team look REALLY BAD, and makes a coach look like he doesn't know what he's doing. #MrObvious #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
chimes3899's picture

Some of the best defense I have seen from OSU this year because a healthy MSU team is a very very good team. Q played one of his best games of the year and I thought Thomson played really well too cause he was tasked with guarding Harris (MSU's best guard) for the majority of the game. 2 things will continue to bother me though unless OSU can quickly change their habits. 1st is the missed free throws because 2-8 down the stretch is awful and 19-31 overall isnt very good either. Also Williams inability to catch the basketball on rebounds or post feeds cost a few extra turnovers. Fix those 2 main problems and making it to the sweet 16 and even further seems realistic but if those problems persist we will be knocked out quite early. 

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Ross can still be frustrating in the way he gets lost for long stretches, especially on defense. But what I like about the way his game is developing is that he's not just the stand-still jump shooter anymore -- he's driving the lane and creating his shot. With his length, he creates a lot of problems for the opposition.

He's going to need some help, though, if we're supposed to win 4 games in 4 days.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

+1 HS
Zimmy07's picture

I read that Izzo complained about the officiating an couldn't believe it.

I loved LSJ's reaction at the buzzer to the Sparty player trying the tap in...


Ashtabula's picture he slapped the guy's arm.  That was a foul, if it was called, it would have been a weak one, but it was a foul.

+3 HS
Zimmy07's picture

I agree it was probably a foul and possibly Craft fouled on the shot as well.  I figured the ref's probably thought they owed us a few for only calling maybe 1 out of every 4 on the other end.


+1 HS
bucknutjeff's picture

I went back and watched the ending several times and here's my take. Yes, Craft could have possibly been called for a foul, but the "foul" by LSJ occurred after the lights on the backboard lit up, so in my opinion, it was after time expired so a good no call.

+2 HS
kevdale86's picture

There's no way they call that a foul at that point in the game. You have to literally mug someone to get a call in that situation. Plus, as it was pointed out in another post, the "foul" occurred after the buzzer.

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Indeed is a tough win, against a very good team that was at full strength I believe too...  


Hope we can build off this, now is when it matters most.  GO BUCKS!

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

The B1G tourney is going to be carnage. I always worry about the disparity in the refereeing between our conference play and the NCAAs, but I think most B1G teams will be more than happy to play a non-conference foe. I've rarely been so happy with a 10-8 record.

Daddypete's picture

The football team needs to find someone on the defense who has "Aaron Craft" tenacity. He has that "get on my back and I will take you there" attitude and it rubs off. Just watch Williams and Sam Thompson play when Craft is out there on the court. They never take a play off if he is out there. As my motto says, who, on this defense, is going to "stand and deliver". We need leaders!!!!

"Stand and Deliver!"