College

Buckeyes Beat Spartans, For 3-Way Tie For Big Ten Title

Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans scores over Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter of the game at Breslin Center on March 4, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans scores over Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter of the game at Breslin Center on March 4, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — William Buford made a high-arcing jumper from the top of the key with 1 second left, lifting No. 10 Ohio State to a 72-70 win over No. 5 Michigan State on Sunday, forging a three-way tie for the Big Ten title.

The Buckeyes (25-6, 13-5) earned a share of their third straight conference championship and forced the Spartans (24-7, 13-5) to settle for having a piece of it along with No. 13 Michigan.

The Wolverines, who won their first Big Ten title since 1986, watched their rivals play from the school’s basketball facility in Ann Arbor after winning at Penn State earlier in the day.

Michigan State led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but couldn’t put away the Buckeyes.

Draymond Green had a shot to put the Spartans ahead in his final home game, but missed a long fadeaway from the right wing with 32 seconds left. Just before the buzzer, Green had a heave that missed the mark.

Buford scored just four points when Michigan State ended Ohio State’s 39-game home winning streak last month. He returned the favor with his game-winning shot and by scoring 19 of his 25 points in the second half, giving the Spartans their first loss at home this season.

Jared Sullinger had 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting and Deshaun Thomas scored nine of his 12 points in the second half for the Buckeyes, who rallied to beat a motivated team that desperately wanted to win an outright championship after having a two-game lead with two games left in the regular season.

Green seemed too fired up about playing in his last home game, shooting a long airball on his first attempt from the baseline and finishing 6 of 18 from the field with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a game-high four turnovers.

Brandon Wood scored 15 points and Derrick Nix had 11 off the bench while Keith Appling was held to two of his 11 points after halftime for the Spartans, who lost standout freshman Branden Dawson in the first half with an injured left knee.

Even with Michigan State’s students on spring break, there was big-game buzz in the Breslin Center and the fans had plenty to cheer about when the Spartans went on a 12-0 run to take a 19-7 lead.

Michigan State led 24-9 midway through the first half, then had a setback that might linger as a problem heading into the Big Ten tournament this week and the NCAA tournament the following week.

Dawson injured his left knee with 10:16 left in the first half. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, who ranks third on the team in scoring, second in rebounds and perhaps first in athletic ability, rubbed his left knee while his leg was propped up on a chair and later walked gingerly to the locker room.

Sullinger missed his first five shots and was 2 of 10 in the first half, but stayed active and aggressive enough to make all four of his free throws and to score eight points to help Ohio State trail by just nine at halftime.

The Buckeyes scored the first six points of the second half and went ahead 52-51 with 9:53 to take their first lead since scoring the game’s first two points.

For the rest of the game, each team took a turn with a small lead, exchanging shots and banging bodies in a test that should prepare both for the rest of the month.

(© 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)