Preview: Ohio State at Michigan State
Updated On: Jan 06 2014 06:29:49 PM CST
Aaron Craft produced two of the best offensive games of his four-year career against Michigan State last season and the Ohio State point guard will try to continue that trend when the No. 3 Buckeyes travel to the No. 4 Spartans for a Big Ten clash Tuesday. Craft scored his career high of 21 points when these teams met in their second conference game last season, and came back with 20 three weeks later when they collided in the conference tournament semifinal. Craft, who has just one other 20-point game in collegiate career, enters this matchup on a roll after earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his efforts last week against Purdue and Nebraska.Michigan State will counter with shooting guard Gary Harris, who has battled an ankle injury that kept him out three games this season, but appears to be on the mend after scoring 26 points in 37 minutes - both season highs - in a 73-56 victory Saturday at Indiana. Michigan State 6-10 forward Adreian Payne poses a possible matchup problem, but will need to get more shot attempts than he did the last two games if he expects to have an impact. Payne, an Ohio native, combined for 11 field-goal attempts and nine points in the last two games after taking double-digit shot attempts and scoring no fewer than 16 in the previous five games.TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNABOUT OHIO STATE (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten): The Buckeyes have been successful mostly because of their defense. Ohio State is surrendering an average of 54.9 points, tied for third-best in the nation, and has not allowed an opponent to hit the 70-point mark this season, their longest such streak since they went 22 games during the 2010-11 season. Perimeter defense has been a specialty as the Buckeyes are limiting the opposition to 24.3-percent shooting from 3-point distance, the lowest mark in Division I.ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (13-1, 2-0): The Spartans are shooting 39.3 from 3-point distance, which puts 38th in the nation. Harris has seen his long-range efficiency drop off this season, but point guard Keith Appling has connected on 47.2 percent of his 3s, up from 32 percent last season and 25 percent the year before. Travis Trice has been nearly as effective from downtown, hitting on 44.4 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.TIP-INS1. Ohio State's bench has outscored the opposition's reserves 325-177 this season.2. Craft, who averages 4.9 assists, needs 39 to pass Bruce Douglas of Illinois (1982-86) to become the Big Ten's all-time leader.3. Michigan State F Matt Costello could return to the starting lineup in his third game back after missing four in December with mononucleosis.PREDICTION: Michigan State 65, Ohio State 64
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