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Buckeyes force 3-way tie for Big Ten title

Mar 5, 2012 - 4:18 AM East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - William Buford dribbled to his left and knocked down a long jumper from the top of the key with one second remaining, giving No. 10 Ohio State a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a 72-70 win over No. 5 Michigan State on Sunday.

The Buckeyes (25-6, 13-5 Big Ten) came back from 15 points down to beat the Spartans (24-7, 13-5) and forced a three-way tie atop the conference, along with No. 13 Michigan.

Michigan State, though it lost its bid for an outright title, had already locked up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan beat Penn State earlier Sunday, then got the help it needed from Ohio State to win its first Big Ten title since 1986.

Buford finished with 25 points, Jared Sullinger had 14 with 10 rebounds and Deshaun Thomas scored 12 for the Buckeyes, who overcame a 15-point deficit in the first half and a nine-point hole early in the second to finish the regular season with two straight wins.

They avenged a 58-48 setback to Michigan State on Feb. 11 in Columbus -- their first home loss in almost two years.

"It means a lot," Ohio State's Aaron Craft said of the win. "We've definitely had our ups and downs this year and a lot of people counted us out."

Draymond Green led the Spartans with 19 points and 12 rebounds but missed key shots down the stretch as his team looked to their star. Brandon Wood added 15 points.

After Craft tied the game at 70-70 for Ohio State on a long jumper from the right baseline, Green's fadeaway from the right side was off the mark at the other end.

Ohio State got the ball with 24.7 seconds left and Craft dribbled most of them away before getting the ball to Buford, who went left at the point against Keith Appling and hit nothing but net on his go-ahead jumper.

Michigan State struggled for coherence in the last second. After inbounding the ball and calling a timeout near midcourt with 0.7 seconds left, all that came was an off-balance shot from Green at the buzzer that had no chance.

"We were going to go out and try to win the Big Ten Tournament anyway, so it's not like [this loss] is going to make us say now we have to win the title," said Green. "That's all we want to do. We always talk about trying to leave a footprint in the sand, leave a legacy."

As in-control as the Spartans were early on, the game ended up being close. Craft's jumper in the final minute marked the 10th tie in the game, and Buford's shot was the 10th lead change.

Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State will have byes in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Thursday.

On Friday, Michigan State will play the winner of Thursday's Iowa-Illinois game; second-seeded Michigan will get the Northwestern-Minnesota victor; and third-seeded Ohio State will play the Purdue-Nebraska winner.

Michigan State shot 51.7 percent in the first half and had a 26-11 lead after Adreian Payne's jumper midway through. Later, Ohio State cut a 13-point MSU lead to five points with an 8-0 run and the Spartans carried a 38-29 edge into the break.

Game Notes

Michigan State lost two straight to end the regular season, also falling to Indiana on Tuesday on the heels of a seven-game winning streak...The Spartans won their 13th Big Ten title and seventh under head coach Tom Izzo while Ohio State captured its 20th, including three in a row.