COLUMBUS, Ohio – William Buford scored 23 points and Aaron Craft had a hand in two critical plays down the stretch to lead No. 2 Ohio State to a 71-61 win over Michigan State on Tuesday night.
It was a hard-fought struggle for the Buckeyes (25-1, 12-1 Big Ten), playing for the first time since having their unbeaten season ended with a 61-57 loss at Wisconsin on Saturday.
Jon Diebler and David Lighty each had 12 points. Jared Sullinger, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds, was limited to 11 and 2. Craft, a freshman substitute point guard, had seven points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds.
Kalin Lucas led the Spartans (14-11, 6-7) with 14 points, while Adreian Payne and Draymond Green each had 10.
The Buckeyes finished the game on an 18-10 run to pull away.
With the Buckeyes hanging on to a 45-44 lead, Buford stepped in front of a bad pass by Lucas and went coast to coast for the basket. The next time down the floor, Craft forced Lucas to give the ball up in the backcourt, leading to two free throws by Diebler. After the Spartans scored a second-chance bucket, Diebler flipped in a line-drive three from the top of the key for a 52-46 lead.
After Michigan State had cut it to 53-51, Buford hit consecutive jumpers – the first a three from the left wing and the second a stop-and-pop jumper from 15 feet to make it 58-51.
No. 15 VILLANOVA 60, SETON HALL 57: In Newark, N.J., reserve freshman James Bell more than doubled his career high with 21 points as the Wildcats (20-6, 8-5 Big East) broke a two-game losing streak.
No. 19 NORTH CAROLINA 78, WAKE FOREST 64: Tyler Zeller scored 18 points to lead the Tar Heels (19-6, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Freshman Harrison Barnes added 17 points as North Carolina maintained sole possession of second place in the league with an easy win against a struggling instate rival.
No 20 MISSOURI 92, TEXAS TECH 84: Marcus Denmon scored 20 points, showing no after effects from a blow to the head three days earlier, to help lead Tigers (20-6, 6-5 Big 12) in Columbia, Mo.
No. 22 KENTUCKY 85, MISSISSIPPI STATE 79: Brandon Knight scored 24 points, Doron Lamb added 20 in his first start in nearly as month as the Wildcats (18-7, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) won in Lexington to send the Bulldogs (13-12, 5-6) to their second straight loss.
No. 10 DEPAUL 66, RUTGERS 62: In Chicago, Keisha Hampton scored 22 points, including five three-pointers, to help the Blue Demons hold off a late rally.
Sam Quigley added 14 for the Blue Demons (24-3, 11-1 Big East), who hit 10 three-pointers a game they never trailed.