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Published: 1/8/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Ohio State basketball latest to fall to Michigan State

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State's Aaron Craft, left, puts up a layup against Michigan State's Adreian Payne during the first half . Craft was instrumental in getting the Buckeyes to overtime, but his effort wasn’t enough. Ohio State's Aaron Craft, left, puts up a layup against Michigan State's Adreian Payne during the first half . Craft was instrumental in getting the Buckeyes to overtime, but his effort wasn’t enough.
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Save your money on this sequel.

Check that. Watch it again, and tell all your friends.

Just like in football, the Ohio State basketball team endured its first loss of the season to Michigan State.

A month after OSU fell to the Spartans in the Big Ten football championship game, Keith Appling’s game-winning 3-pointer with 29 seconds left sent the third-ranked Buckeyes to a wrenching 72-68 overtime loss on Tuesday night at a sold-out Breslin Center.

Yet this one will be remembered just as much for Ohio State’s comeback — and a finish for the ages — as the result.

Trailing by 17 points late in the second half, Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes stunned the hosts with a 20-3 run to close regulation.

A night that left both OSU coach Thad Matta and Michigan State counterpart Tom Izzo in a sour mood — the Buckeyes had 21 turnovers — took a wild turn after the Spartans took a 55-38 lead with 8:02 remaining.

It was Craft more than anyone who refused to cede a game once on ice. The senior guard from Findlay powered through contact in the lane for a traditional three-point play to cut MSU's lead to 57-54 with 2:02 left, followed with a layup after throwing an inbounds pass off Adreian Payne’s back to pull OSU within one with a minute remaining, and, finally, knifed in for the potential game-tying score.

Craft's layup missed, but Amir Williams followed with a put-back dunk to tie the game at 58 with 21 seconds left.

The action didn't slow in overtime, with the two sides trading one big shot after another. Ohio State's Sam Thompson hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:13 left, only to be answered by Appling's game-winner from the top of the key moments later.

Branden Dawson lays the ball up as Ohio State's Shanon Scott (3), Aaron Craft (4), and LaQuinton Ross, right, and Michigan State's Gavin Schilling (34) watch. Branden Dawson lays the ball up as Ohio State's Shanon Scott (3), Aaron Craft (4), and LaQuinton Ross, right, and Michigan State's Gavin Schilling (34) watch.
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Thompson finished with 18 points, while freshman forward and St. John’s Jesuit graduate Marc Loving added 10 points. Craft had nine points, all of which were saved for the second half — and, more specifically, the dying minutes.

Appling had a game-high 20 points. Payne, who came off the bench after aggravating a sprained foot in warmups, added 18 points.

In other words, it was all just old hat for this ever-growing multisport blood feud.

"This is becoming some football-basketball rivalry," Izzo said afterward.

Like Izzo, who said "it’s hard to feel good about this," Matta and his players were conflicted afterward.

"Yeah, I’m proud we came back, but we weren't as sharp as we needed to be to start the game," Matta said. "We can't come on the road and have 21 turnovers. We had shots to win the game."

Said Thompson: "A loss is a loss. We’re proud of the effort. We had to bounce back, but we shouldn’t have been in that position. We’re never happy after a loss, no matter how much of a comeback or how tough of an environment it was."

It was a wild finish to a day in which the deep, deep freeze had adjusted the usual rhythms. There were no classes, no snaking lines of students waiting hours for the doors to open — bullheaded "Izzone" members were barred from braving the sub-zero temperatures — and few signs of life beyond the arena.

Yet inside this basketball town hall, the place overflowed with it. Ear plugs were distributed to reporters on press row, and for two hours, a hoarse sold-out crowd watched the only game in town play out to their delight.

In a classic swallow-the-whistles bruiser, the Buckeyes' offense was out of sorts from the start. They were 9 for 27 and had 10 turnovers in the first half.

In the end, Ohio State acquitted itself well. All they had heard coming in were the questions on the ease of their schedule. Though the Buckeyes were 6-0 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI — with wins over Marquette, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Purdue — they had yet to beat a currently ranked opponent.

The Buckeyes didn’t win, but they just may have showed more in defeat.



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