Craft's 21 takes care of Spartans

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

COLUMBUS (AP) -- All year long Ohio State's fans wondered whether Aaron Craft -- one of the nation's top defenders -- would ever make major contributions at the other end of the court.

He picked the perfect time to finally break loose.

Craft continually slashed through the lane for a career-high 21 points on Sunday -- more than he had scored in the last three games combined -- to lead the 18th-ranked Buckeyes to to a 68-60 victory over No. 4 Michigan State.

"Give Aaron Craft credit. In the second half, he tore us apart," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "It was Aaron Craft. He beat us every way you could beat us."

The pesty, bothersome junior defensive specialist hit 7 of 12 shots -- almost all of them on drives through a thicket of players in the paint.

The loss crippled the Spartans' hopes of catching up with top-ranked Indiana, which now leads the Big Ten race by two full games with four remaining.

Freshman Gary Harris had 14 points, Derrick Nix 12 and Adreian Payne 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Spartans (22-6, 11-4), who have dropped two in a row after winning 11 of 12.

It also boosted Ohio State's flagging postseason resume. The Buckeyes came in having won just a single game in eight starts against teams in the Associated Press Top 25 -- but were 18-0 against unranked teams.

Counting a 56-53 win over No. 2-ranked Michigan on Jan. 13, it was the first time that Ohio State has ever beaten two top-5 teams at home in the same season.

No wonder the fans sang, "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan" in the final minutes.

The big win came a week after the Buckeyes looked listless in an embarrassing 71-49 loss at Wisconsin. They took the first step with a convincing 71-45 win over Minnesota before topping the Spartans.

"We beat two really, really good basketball teams," coach Thad Matta said. "Minnesota at one point this year was in the top 10 and these guys were No. 4 in the country. This was a big week for us -- home, away, wherever -- especially coming off of that game last week."

Deshaun Thomas added 12 of his 14 points in the second half for the Buckeyes (20-7, 10-5), who stand fifth in the conference. Evan Ravenel added 10 points and a crucial block in the final minute.

No. 6 DUKE 89, BOSTON COLLEGE 68

DURHAM, N.C. -- Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored a season-high 27 points and Duke routed Boston College.

No. 7 MICHIGAN 71, ILLINOIS 58

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Trey Burke had 26 points and eight assists to help Michigan bounce back from a slow start to beat Illinois.

The Wolverines (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten) shook off a sluggish first half with a strong second half to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month.

No. 20 PITTSBURGH 63, ST. JOHN'S 47

NEW YORK -- Tray Woodall scored a season-high 25 points, including two huge 3-pointers in the second half, and Pittsburgh snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over St. John's.

No. 25 NOTRE DAME 62, CINCINNATI 41

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jerian Grant scored 13 points to lead Notre Dame to a win over Cincinnati.

BIG TEN

PURDUE 74, NORTHWESTERN 43

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. --Terone Johnson scored 22 points to help Purdue defeat Northwestern 74-43 and snap a three-game losing streak.

WOMEN

NO. 14 DAYTON 67, TEMPLE 47

DAYTON -- Andrea Hoover led five players for No. 14 Dayton in scoring with a game-high 14 points as it blew out Temple 67-47 Sunday in an Atlantic 10 Conference matchup.

Ally Malott and Olivia Applewhite scored 12 apiece, Amber Dean added 11 and Samantha Mackay chipped in 10 and seven assists for Dayton (24-1, 12-0), which has won 12 straight games.

In the first half, Dayton shot 38.7 percent (12 of 31), but held Temple to just 33.3 percent (8 of 24). Dayton led at halftime 34-22.

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