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Buford helps No. 2 Ohio State get by Michigan State

Feb 16, 2011 - 5:52 AM Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - William Buford poured in 23 points, as second-ranked Ohio State pulled away from Michigan State, 71-61, at Value City Arena.

David Lighty and Jon Diebler both scored 12 points for the Buckeyes (25-1, 12-1 Big Ten), who rebounded from Saturday's loss to Wisconsin in Madison.

"There was a challenge tonight. I honestly wanted to see how they would respond," said Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. "I thought they did a pretty good job of that."

Kalin Lucas netted 14 points to pace the Spartans (14-11, 6-7), whose season continues to spiral downward. They were coming off Thursday's victory against Penn State, but have dropped six of eight overall.

Michigan State shot well, making better than 57 percent from the field, but got to the free throw line just six times. By contrast, Ohio State made 23- of-29 free throws while shooting 43 percent.

"We did just about everything I wanted to do, except we turned over the ball and didn't get to the free throw line," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.

The first half was back-and-forth, with the lead generally never exceeding one possession. Buford sank a three-pointer with a minute left to give the Buckeyes a 35-34 edge at the break.

The teams continued to trade baskets and the lead in the second half, but Ohio State started to break away down the stretch.

Diebler hit a three with 12 minutes to go, making it a 52-46 game, though the Buckeyes came up empty on their next two possessions, and Draymond Green drilled a long-distance shot to keep MSU within three.

Then, Buford connected on a three and followed that with a jumper, giving the Buckeyes a 58-51 advantage with under nine minutes to go. Several minutes later, Aaron Craft chased a runaway ball into Ohio State's end, gained control, and dropped in a layup as he was fouled. The free throw gave OSU a 61-53 advantage.

Michigan State stayed in contention, and drew within 64-59 on Green's layup with 2:46 to play.

But the Spartans didn't score again until the closing seconds, allowing Ohio State to secure the win. The clinching moment was likely when Green incurred two personal fouls and a technical foul with 1:42 remaining. Craft made 3-of-4 free throws for a 69-59 advantage.

Game Notes

The Buckeyes are 17-0 at home this season (16-0 at Value City Arena)...Ohio State has won the last three meetings, and is 37-16 vs. MSU in Columbus...Jared Sullinger scored 11 points for the Buckeyes...Green and Adreian Payne both finished with 10 points for the Spartans.