All year long Ohio State's fans wondered whether Aaron Craft — one of the nation's top defenders — would ever make major contributions at the other end of the court.
He picked the perfect time to finally break loose.
Craft continually slashed through the lane for a career-high 21 points on Sunday — more than he had scored in the last three games combined — to lead the 18th-ranked Buckeyes to a 68-60 victory over No. 4 Michigan State at Columbus, Ohio.
"Give Aaron Craft credit. In the second half, he tore us apart," Spartans Coach Tom Izzo said. "It was Aaron Craft. He beat us every way you could beat us."
The pesky, bothersome junior defensive specialist hit seven of 12 shots — almost all of them on drives through a thicket of players in the paint.
The loss crippled the Spartans' hopes of catching up with top-ranked Indiana, which now leads the Big Ten race by two full games with four remaining.
Freshman Gary Harris had 14 points, Derrick Nix 12 and Adreian Payne 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Spartans, who have dropped two in a row after winning 11 of 12.
It also boosted Ohio State's flagging post-season résumé. The Buckeyes came in having won just a single game in eight starts against teams in the Associated Press Top 25 — but were 18-0 against unranked teams.
No. 7 Michigan 71, Illinois 58: Trey Burke had 26 points and eight assists to help Michigan bounce back from a slow start to beat Illinois at Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michigan played for the first time in a week and looked rusty and sloppy early, turning the ball over the missing open shots. Illinois led by as much as eight points in the first half and didn't trail until Tim Hardaway Jr. had a three-point play with 3:30 to go.
Brandon Paul scored all 10 of points in the first half to help the Illini lead 31-28 at halftime. Paul didn't attempt a shot in the second half.
The Fighting Illini had won five straight, a streak that started Feb. 7 by beating top-ranked Indiana.
No. 6 Duke 89, Boston College 68: Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored a season-high 27 points and Duke routed Boston College at Durham, N.C. Mason Plumlee added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils. They shot nearly 54 percent — 62 percent during the first half — and outscored BC 48-17 during the 15½ minute span that put this one out of reach by halftime.
No. 12 Louisville 55, Villanova 49: Bria Smith scored 16 points and Sara Hammond (Rockcastle County) finished a rebound shy of a third straight double-double to help Louisville win at Villanova, Pa.
Hammond had 10 points and nine rebounds, as did teammate Antonita Slaughter (Louisville Christian).
Smith added seven boards, six steals and four assists for the Cardinals (22-6, 10-4 Big East), who bounced back from a 73-62 loss against South Florida.
Vanderbilt 61, No. 10 Texas A&M 51: Tiffany Clarke scored 22 of her career-high 30 points in the second half to help Vanderbilt upset Texas A&M at Nashville.
Clarke made 12 of 25 shots and scored on back-to-back possessions late to help the Commodores pick up their first win against a top-10 team since knocking off No. 6 Georgia on Jan. 14, 2010.
No. 11 Tennessee 60, Arkansas 54: Meighan Simmons made sure Tennessee didn't overlook Arkansas again.
Simmons scored 18 points as Tennessee rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to win at Fayetteville, Ark.
The Lady Vols (22-5, 13-1 Southeastern Conference) extended their winning streak to five games and remained atop the conference standings. The win also follows a shocking overtime win last season by the Lady Razorbacks, their first win at Knoxville.
No. 19 Georgia 73, Mississippi 54: Jasmine Hassell had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Georgia's Andy Landers earned his 900th coaching victory as the Lady Bulldogs won at Oxford, Miss.
Landers has 818 wins with Georgia and had 82 at Roane State prior to taking over Georgia's program. The NCAA does not recognize his 82 wins at Roane State, a junior college located in Tennessee.
No. 15 South Carolina 58, Mississippi State 43: Aleighsa Welch recorded her eighth double-double of the season, scoring a career-high 20 points with 11 rebounds to power host South Carolina past Mississippi State.
Hanover 83, Transylvania 66: Former Scott County star Madisen Webb had 19 points in the Pioneers' loss in the finals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament in Lexington.
KIAC post-season honors
Alice Lloyd's Ariel Nickell was named the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Association's women's basketball player of the year. Indiana-Southeast's Cameron Mitchell won the men's honor.
Alice Lloyd's Carla Booth, a Sheldon Clark grad who transferred from Eastern Kentucky, was the women's top newcomer.
Adam Delph, a senior out of Pleasure Ridge Park who walked on at Kentucky during the 2008-09 season, was named the KIAC's comeback player of the year. Delph, who leads the league with 18.9 points per game, missed last season with a torn ACL.