Revenge, a Big Ten Championship and a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It was all on the line as Ohio State met Michigan State in the championship game of the Big Ten tournament.
After 39 minutes of back-and-forth play, MSU senior and Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green hit what turned out to be a dagger 3-pointer to help lift No. 1-seed MSU to a 68-64 victory against No. 3-seed OSU.
OSU sophomore forward Jared Sullinger had 18 points and 8 rebounds as a total of five Buckeyes scored in double figures, but Green’s 12 points and MSU senior guard Brandon Wood’s 21, proved too much for the Buckeyes to handle.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, but sophomore guard Aaron Craft’s third steal in the game’s first six minutes led to a breakaway dunk by senior guard William Buford on the other end.
Sullinger hit a right-handed hook shot on the very next possession and OSU took a 10-7 lead with 14:28 remaining in the first half.
With OSU leading, 18-17, Sullinger was called for an illegal screen and picked up his second foul of the game, sending him to the bench with 8:22 in the first half. He remained on the bench for the remainder of the period.
The Buckeye big man had 54 points in OSU’s first two tournament games and the Buckeyes couldn’t extend their lead in his absence.
Freshman guard Shannon Scott came off the bench and scored four straight points, but a 3-pointer from Wood completed a 6-0 Spartan run to give MSU the 25-22 lead with 4:35 on the clock.
About a minute layer, Buford was hit on the arm as he connected on a long jumper. His free throw knotted the score up at 27.
With 36 seconds left in the half, Craft grabbed his own missed shot and put it in to make the score 34-31.
MSU coach Tom Izzo shouted at the ref that his team was fouled on the play, but he was quickly whistled for a technical foul.
Buford hit one of two free throws cutting the MSU lead to 34-32. That score held going into the locker room as Buford led all scorers with 10 points. Green had seven points.
Sullinger reentered the game to start the second half and the Buckeyes went right to him. He missed his first attempt but proceeded to make a right hand hook, 3-pointer and fade-away jump shot in consecutive attempts to give OSU a 41-39 lead.
Sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. made back-to-back 3-pointers to help OSU extend its lead to seven, but the Spartans came right back.
Wood made back-to-back 3-pointers of its own as part of 10-0 MSU to reclaim the lead, 55-52, with 11:38 remaining.
About a minute later, Craft picked up his fourth foul of the game, sending him to the bench.
MSU extended its lead to five on Wood’s 21st point of the game with 7:29 remaining.
OSU inched within two with less than two minutes to play, but Green, who had just picked up his fourth foul, nailed a 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining to give his team a 67-62 lead.
A Craft layup cut the lead to three with 14 seconds remaining, but an MSU free throw sealed the game and the Big Ten Championship.
The loss drops OSU’s record to 27-7 on the year. The Buckeyes received the No. 2 seed in the East region in the NCAA Tournament and will play No. 15-seeded Loyola (Maryland) in Pittsburgh in the second round Thursday.