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Jan. 27, 2001

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Brian Brown has been a bit player on teams that went%^$to a Final Four and shared a Big Ten title, but those highlights have been%^$pushed to the back of his memory bank.%^$

“This is the biggest win of my career because we don’t have the talent we%^$had before,” Brown said after scoring a career-high 25 points in Ohio State’s%^$64-55 victory over No. 3 Michigan State.%^$

The Spartans (16-2, 5-2), who had won their last four games, would have tied%^$Illinois for the Big Ten lead with a victory.%^$

The upset came six days after defending national champion Michigan State%^$dominated the Buckeyes in the second half to win 71-56 in East Lansing.%^$

Brown went 8-of-13 from the field, 7-of-9 on free throws and also had six%^$assists and five rebounds for Ohio State (13-7, 4-4).%^$

“Brian was terrific. Playing all 40 minutes says it all – we didn’t think%^$we could afford to take him out,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said. “His%^$floor game was great, his game awareness and his presence throughout the whole%^$game was marvelous.”%^$

Ohio State’s Brent Darby added 11 points, including two timely 3-pointers.%^$

Bewildered all day by Ohio State’s 2-3 zone, Michigan State never got closer%^$than seven points after the Buckeyes scored the final four points before%^$halftime and 12 of the first 14 points in the second half.%^$

“Coach told us if we got them in a halfcourt set, we could defend them,”%^$Brown said.%^$

The Spartans’ Andre Hutson scored 17 points and Jason Richardson had 11 -%^$all in the first half – before fouling out. The starting backcourt of Charlie%^$Bell and Marcus Taylor combined to hit just 5-of-21 shots from the field and%^$totaled 14 points. Bell was battling the flu.%^$

“We got a lesson in how to play hard,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.%^$”Ohio State got exactly what they deserved. They played better defense than%^$us.”%^$

Ohio State was outrebounded 36-27 in the previous meeting as the Spartans%^$piled up 20 offensive rebounds. That was without starting center Hutson, who%^$was recovering from pneumonia.%^$

Then, on Wednesday night, Ohio State shot just 25 percent from the field and%^$lost 57-41 at No. 19 Wisconsin.%^$

“Today was huge for us,” O’Brien said. “We had not beaten a team that was%^$ranked. Any time you beat somebody in the top five it goes a long way toward%^$people noticing you.”%^$

Michigan State had already weathered an eight-minute span without a point%^$but was tied at 22 late in the first half.%^$

Brown gave the Buckeyes the lead for good with a pair of free throws and Tim%^$Martin added two more to put the Buckeyes ahead 26-22 at the break.%^$

Four players scored in the 12-2 run at the outset of the second half as Ohio%^$State built a 38-24 lead by the 15:10 mark. Michigan State was unable to get%^$out and run and had difficulty getting inside against the Buckeyes’ Ken%^$Johnson, the nation’s top shot-blocker a year ago.%^$

“We wanted to pressure the ball. We thought if we kept them out of the%^$transition game, we would be OK,” Darby said. “Our poise was so much better%^$today than it was last Sunday.”%^$

The Buckeyes led by as many as 16 points – on Darby’s 3-pointer with 13:52%^$left – before Michigan State regrouped to cut the lead to eight on three%^$occasions.%^$

Each time Ohio State – in particular, Brown – had an answer. He hit two free%^$throws after the Spartans had cut it to 51-43 with just under 4 minutes left,%^$then assisted on Darby’s 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining. After Michigan State%^$cut it to 58-51 on Taylor’s 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining, Brown hit two more%^$foul shots.%^$

“We played tough – especially down the stretch,” Brown said.%^$

The Buckeyes frittered away leads in several games this season, and O’Brien%^$said they proved they had learned from those problems.%^$

“We were every bit as tough as we’ve ever been since I’ve been at Ohio%^$State,” the fourth-year head coach said.%^$

Ohio State’s last eight points came at the line, where the Buckeyes went%^$20-of-28, to Michigan State’s 10-of-14.%^$

The Spartans missed nine consecutive shots from the field and had five%^$turnovers in an eight-minute span as Ohio State turned an 11-6 deficit into a%^$15-11 lead in the first half.%^$

Michigan State hit five of its first six shots from the field, but made just%^$16 of 47 (34 percent) the rest of the way.