Aaron Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead No. 10 Ohio State past No. 8 Michigan State, 61-58 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
Scouting matters. Have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t know your opponent, you’ll get sliced up. So credit Indiana for blowing up Illinois’ offense by stretching its defense well out to the perimeter in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. There was no space to breathe for Illinois’ shooters, and consequently just 6 of Illinois’ 27 field goal attempts were three-pointers in the first half.
After a bruising and thrilling two days of basketball, the four top-seeded teams advance to Saturday’s semifinals of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. No. 1 seed Indiana faces No. 4 seed Wisconsin, and No. 2 seed Ohio State faces No. 3 seed Michigan State.
The Spartans had lots of chances to fold but never did. They came out sluggish and fell behind quickly, ending the first half trailing, 30-20. Wait, it got worse. With 10:55 left in the game, Iowa had pushed its lead to 12 points, 45-33. That’s when the Spartans went to work, chipping away and refusing to buckle.
Michigan State’s Keith Appling must be sick of hearing about how great teammates Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne are at dunking, because the point guard threw down his second ridiculous jam in as many games Friday night. Last week, it was this powerful beauty. Appling’s latest dunk may have been even better, as he drove the lane, again, and, this time, posertized Iowa’s Melsahn Basbabe. Watch the dunk here and see Twitter reaction to it in this post.
Adreian Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a rugged 59-56 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday night. Keith Appling and Gary Harris had 13 points apiece for the Spartans (25-7), who trailed by 12 midway through the second half. They advance to play Ohio State in the next round in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship, won by Michigan State.