Score: No. 10 Ohio State 50, No. 22 Wisconsin 43
Stars:Ohio State:Deshaun Thomas 17 Pts, 7 Reb. Wisconsin:Traevon Jackson 10 Pts, 3 Reb.
Story: This was just another grueling Big Ten game as Ohio State held off Wisconsin to take the conference tournament championship. Each team struggled mightily shooting the ball, with Wisconsin going the final seven minutes of play without a made field goal. Ohio State overcame its own scoreless streak in the first half to narrow Wisconsin's lead to one point at the half after it had been as high as nine.
Deshaun Thomas once again carried the Buckeyes, as one of two players on either team to score in double digits. Aaron Craft also chipped in nine points and six rebounds.
Each team played a relatively clean game, tallying only nine turnovers a piece, but poor shooting on both sides resulted in such a low scoring contest.
LaQuinton Ross shined off the bench for OSU, contributing seven points and four rebounds, including the only made three of the game for Ohio State. Ross was key in the play that turned the game permanently in OSU's favor. With 5:30 left to play, a diving steal by Shannon Scott turned into a transition layup for Ross, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
Thad Matta sent out a relatively small lineup for the last several minutes, with Thomas essentially playing center, along with Craft, Shannon Scott, Ross and Sam Thompson. This could be a nice advantage for OSU in the NCAA Tournament against slower teams. However, it also exposes this team's lack of size. Strong play from Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams are crucial to the Bucks making a deep tournament run. They do not necessarily need to score, but consistent defense and rebounding are going to be essential in order to succeed against teams with solid big men.
Aaron Craft was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, and deservedly so. The junior point guard had 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals yesterday against Michigan State, representative of an overall outstanding week. Continued strong play on his part, along with the usual contribution from Thomas and players like Ross and Scott stepping up could lead to big things for this Ohio State team.
This team has come a long way in a short time, at times this season looking quite vulnerable in a conference full of heavyweights. But Thad Matta has guided his bunch to yet another Big Ten Tournament crown, and they appear to be peaking at the perfect moment. Ohio State will soon find out its fate for the rest of the year, but a No. 2 seed is looking likely for this group.
Here's a shot of the trophy presentation, courtesy of OSU College Spun contributor Antonio Venegas.