March 9, 2014

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Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) 69, No. 22 Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) 67
March 9, 2014
Value City Arena  – Columbus, Ohio
Attendance: 18,809

Thad Matta, Ohio State Head Coach
On the game
“I thought we defended down the stretch as well as we could defend, and we had to. I thought our activity was great. We got buried then Sam Thompson comes out of nowhere and challenged that shot. That was probably the difference for us in terms of winning the game. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with free throws but we kept defending.”

On the senior class
“After all the memories they have in this building over the course of four years, and to end it this way, it is a great feeling for a coach.”

On how the Buckeyes have improved
“I think that we learned a lot about ourselves in this past week. We challenged them and I told them we are a better basketball team than we were a week ago and I’m proud of them and it showed today.”

Aaron Craft, senior guard
On building momentum for tournament play
“We’ve had a couple big wins but we haven’t bounced back from them like we should have. Hopefully we can keep this momentum. Everyone goes back to starting at 0-0 and that’s probably the most exciting part.”

Lenzelle Smith Jr., senior guard
On finishing out the regular season at home
“It means a lot to end like this. Not just ending, but playing the Michigan State Spartans and beating them. This is a huge step for our team and Buckeye Nation. When we fight for one another we can play our best basketball.”

Sam Thompson, junior forward
On Ohio State’s ability to close the game
“We needed to get out there and contest Adreian Paine. As far as our defense at the end of the game, that’s the type of team we need to be – the style of play that has brought us success in previous years and at points this season. We’ve always been a team that relies on our defense and today was no different.”

LaQuinton Ross, junior forward
On what it took to win at the end of the game
“I think we did what we should have been doing all year. Down the stretch we all got together and fought. If you watch some of our old games it looked like we didn’t know what we were doing, and tonight we showed what type of team we are and what type of team they need to look forward to in this tournament.”

Tom Izzo, Michigan State head coach
On Craft’s performance on Senior Day
“I think [Craft] stands for everything that I would want a player to stand for. It was an honor to coach against him for four years. He made some big plays and had a very good game. A kid like that deserves that kind of game on Senior Day. [Craft’s diving rebound] was his staple and the poetic justice way to end his last game.”

On foul trouble affecting the game
“Because [Dawson] didn’t play, they were driving on us and we didn’t guard very well. Consequently, when they drive, we gave up offensive rebounds.”

On the Spartan mentality
“Ohio State played very hard, very aggressive and very physical. If any of you guys from Ohio think this is the old smash-mouth Michigan State team, you’re kidding yourself. We’re not that team.”