Ohio State advanced to the finals of the 2013 Big Ten tournament with a 61-58 victory over Michigan State in the semifinals on Saturday. The Buckeyes will face Wisconsin in the tournament championship game on Sunday.
Michigan State led by a point at the break, but Ohio State began to assert itself down the stretch, leading by as many as eight points. Despite their struggles on the offensive end in the second half, the Spartans fought back in the last five minutes to make the game tight. A three-point play by Michigan State's Derrick Nix cut Ohio State's lead to one point with a little less than two minutes to play, capping a 7-0 run.
On Ohio State's ensuing possession, however, Nix committed a flagrant-1 foul on OSU guard Aaron Craft; as Craft broke for the rim, Nix grabbed him by the neck to halt his progress. As a result, the Buckeyes got two free throws and the ball, helping to restore some of their momentum. Craft made one of his two free throws, and Deshaun Thomas extended the lead back to four with a jump shot in the final 30 seconds. That proved too much for the Spartans to overcome.
Craft had a big afternoon for the Buckeyes, scoring 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He added nine assists and four steals. In a game where Thomas struggled from the field (6-of-19), Craft's efficient offense was crucial.