A week ago, Ohio State was in the midst getting run off the floor at Wisconsin and wondering what was happening to its season after losing three of four games.
Now the 18th-ranked Buckeyes have run off two straight victories, the latest an impressive 68-60 win over fourth-ranked Michigan State at Value City Arena on Sunday.
Aaron Craft scored career-high 21 points and handed out six assists for Ohio State (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten). He helped spark a 24-5 run in the second half that turned a nine-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
"Give Aaron Craft a lot of credit," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "In the second half, he tore us up. He beat us every way you can beat us. It was a joint effort, it wasn't just one guy (who couldn't guard him)."
After Adreian Payne had put Michigan State ahead 36-27 with a jumper early in the second half, Craft went to work. He routinely beat the Michigan State defense on the ball screens and converted several layups while the Ohio State shooters started heating up.
"We saw some things we thought we could take advantage of," Craft said. "In the first game (against the Spartans, a three-point Michigan State win last month), we didn't do a great job of challenging their bigs on the ball screen. We know they are a great helping team, and it always helps when guys are knocking down shots from the outside. It opens the lanes up and we made some layups."
Deshaun Thomas, who finished with 14 points for the Buckeyes, was only 4-for-16 from the field, but his two 3-pointers during the second-half run were crucial. After his first triple, which cut Michigan State's lead to 36-30, Ohio State coach Thad Matta delivered a message.
Immediately after Thomas' shot went down, Matta called a timeout and told his team the opportunity was there to take control.
"He just said he wanted us to be aggressive on defense," Thomas said, "get some stops and some turnovers because the momentum was on our side after I hit that 3. We got like 14 turnovers, and that was big. Our defense led to our offense."
Michigan State, which lost consecutive games for the first time this season, cut the lead to two in the final three minutes but couldn't get over the hump.