The Ohio State Buckeyes needed a win at home on Sunday afternoon, that much was known.
No, the Buckeyes are not a bubble team or anything of that sort, but entering the contest, Ohio State was carrying a 2-3 mark over the course of their previous five games. With Michigan State in town on Sunday, the Buckeyes were searching for a top five victory and their tenth conference win of the season.
Well, it was ugly at times, especially with the early shooting struggles of junior forward Deshaun Thomas. However, when head coach Thad Matta and the Buckeyes needed plays the most, it was their point guard who stole the show.
Aaron Craft scored a season-high 21 points on Sunday, adding six assists in addition to his scoring output. Not only were his numbers crucial in the team’s 68-60 victory, but it was the countless amount of hustle plays that kept the pressure on the Spartans. From taking charges to forcing turnovers, the reigning Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year from a season ago, truly paced the tempo and game for the Buckeyes.
Thomas finished the contest with 14 points, but needed 16 shots in order to do so. Craft was an efficient 7-of-12 from the field overall, getting to the rim with ease at times in the second half.
Ohio State’s win creates a bit of a log jam atop the conference standings, as games down the stretch will be crucial in terms of tournament seeding. If Craft however, can produce and lead the way like he did on Sunday afternoon, the Buckeyes certainly just got a whole lot dangerous.
Craft has always been a prominent threat for Matta and Ohio State, but if he can start to take over more, the Buckeyes have more than enough capability to make a run this March.
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