It normally spells doom for Ohio State when Deshaun Thomas struggles from the field, but Aaron Craft was there to pick up his slack against Michigan State Sunday – and then some. Craft sliced through the MSU defense and made a routine of getting to the rim on his way to 21 points (17 of which came in the second half) to help the Buckeyes secure a rare win against a ranked opponent. The junior guard shot 7-of-12 from the field and also dished out six assists in the 68-60 OSU victory. “(During the) second half he tore us apart,” Spartan coach Tom Izzo said of Craft’s performance. “He beat us every way you could beat us.” The win was OSU’s (20-7, 10-5) second in nine attempts against ranked teams this season and could prove to be valuable to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume. “This time of the year, we need to get something rolling,” Craft said. “The biggest thing is that we got a win against a great opponent. It doesn’t matter who scores, all that matters is that our team has more points at the end of the game. Hopefully, we can continue this going forward.” The Spartans (22-6, 11-4) led by six at halftime and nine early in the second half, but three 3-pointers, including two from Thomas, and a three-point play from sophomore center Amir Williams fueled an 18-4 OSU run that gave the Buckeyes a 45-40 lead it would never relinquish. Thomas, a junior forward, finished the game with 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting and added seven rebounds. “We made some shots,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “I told my players at halftime we had some great looks, but we have to put the ball in the basket. Defensively, we challenged Michigan State to defend us.” OSU capitalized defensively too, forcing the Spartans into 14 turnovers that the Buckeyes turned into 19 points. MSU’s gameplan was clear from the get-go. Izzo’s squad fed the ball into the post early and often and MSU’s big men were able to capitalize. Junior forward Adreian Payne scored 12 points and grabbed 15 boards while senior forward Derrick Nix added 12 points and six boards of his own. MSU’s first 10 points of the game came in the paint and by halftime, the Spartans scored 24 points inside the key. But OSU’s senior forward Evan Ravenel was able to mitigate the damage as he scored 10 points of his own and was a physical presence defensively inside. “I know Payne and Nix were the focus of the Michigan State offense today,” said Ravenel, who was wearing an ice pack on his right wrist after the game for what he called a minor injury. “They were killing us on the boards. My drive to win the game and be physical was what drove me today to do what I needed to do for my team.” The win caps a successful week for OSU. Following a 22-point loss to Wisconsin that was OSU’s worst defeat since 2009, OSU beat Minnesota by 26 points Wednesday. “We came off our loss against Wisconsin and knew we had to win,” Thomas said. “When we become a defensive team, we put ourselves in the best position to win.” The Buckeyes sit in fifth place in the Big Ten and 2.5 games back of first-place Indiana. OSU next plays Thursday against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Ohio State freshman forward Joshua Jackson-Ketchup (9) takes the ball downfield during the Ohio State- BGSU game on Sep. 22. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorTwo goals proved insufficient for both teams as the No. 16 Ohio State men’s soccer team (7-1-1, 3-0-0 Big Ten) tied Detroit Mercy (5-2-2, 2-1 Horizon) 2-2 Tuesday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.The tie ends the Buckeyes’ win streak at six games and their consecutive shutout streak, which now is the all-time school record at six games. Bluem said he wasn’t overly concerned about the shutout streak coming to an end.“Maybe we were a little too uptight about that,” Bluem said. “Well we don’t have to worry about that now. Now we start a new streak.”The team may have avoided a loss, but Ohio State head coach John Bluem was not happy with the team’s effort.“For me it wasn’t a good soccer game,” Bluem said. “There wasn’t really much soccer played, it was up and down, way too many fouls, I think there was 36 fouls in the game. It’s difficult to play in an environment like that. I think that’s how Detroit wanted the game to be and for us we weren’t able to control the game.”The Buckeyes scored their two goals before the 20th minute, the first coming in the 10th minute off the foot of junior midfielder Abdi Mohamed, assisted on by forward Nate Kohl and defender Kevin Blackwood. The next goal came eight minutes later in the 18th minutes as midfielder Brady Blackwell buried the ball in the net with assists from Kohl and forward Joshua Jackson-Ketchup to give the Buckeyes the 2-0 lead.It was during the 33rd minute when the Buckeyes started to lose their momentum as the Titans’ leading scorer Spiro Pliakos buried his seventh goal of the season, jump-starting the comeback.The tying goal came on a rebound off goalie Parker Siegfried’s hands into the foot of forward Aleks Vushaj in the 64th minute.Bluem took some of the responsibility for the loss of momentum, but also acknowledged that his team lacked consistency throughout the game.“I substituted a little bit too early maybe, when we had the 2-0 lead maybe I should’ve kept that first group on the field that was playing well and see if we could push and get a third goal, so I’ll take responsibility for that,” Bluem said. “But what I think happened their team outcompeted us during stretches of the game and that hasn’t happened to us too much this year. We really have been a team that fights hard for 90 minutes and it wasn’t there tonight. It’s been a long stretch and we’ve played very well over that stretch and today we didn’t have our best game.”The game lasted through two overtimes, but the teams managed only two shots apiece over the combined 20 minutes of play, ending the game in a tie.Though his team saw both the win and shutout streak go by the wayside, Mohamed said a tie should not distract them from the upcoming schedule that includes Big Ten opponents in four of the next six games.“Eventually we were going to get scored on, it’s good to do it now and see how we react to it, so we’ll be ready for October and the challenges to come ahead,” Mohamed said. “We were looking to win, keep the streak going, but now it’s time to regroup and turn our heads to Michigan State.”The Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on conference opponent Michigan State Sunday at 3 p.m.