Aaron Craft had seven key points in the final two plus minutes as the Ohio State Buckeyes picked up a gritty road victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, 59-58. LaQuinton Ross also chipped in with 13 points and Amedeo Della Valle tallied 11 off the bench. Nigel Hayes scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Badgers in defeat.
In a battle of two desperate teams that were really struggling of late, it was the Buckeyes who were able to walk away with what might prove to be a season-changing win. Their offensive deficiencies have been well documented during this rough patch, but today they got contributions from a number of different players.
The Badgers led throughout most of the game, but in the final few minutes the Buckeyes’ defensive tenacity and clutch play from Craft swung the momentum in their favor.
What a win this was for Thad Matta. The Buckeyes have been greatly criticized of late, and talk began to arise that they were in jeopardy of missing out on the NCAA Tournament. After losing five out of their past six games coming into today, Ohio State had road dates that followed in Madison and Iowa City. A turnaround did not appear very likely. You have to give a lot of credit to Matta for instilling the confidence in his guys to right this ship. This was a team that had “free-fall” written all over it, but today they showed a ton of fight. And it certainly helps when you have a senior leader like Craft who is absolutely fearless.
His seven points down the stretch were the difference. He hadn’t scored the entire day before then, but with the game on the line he made all the right plays. And that’s what a big time player does.
So now the attention turns to Wisconsin. What’s going on with the Badgers?
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Columnist for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27