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Aaron Craft vs. Keith Appling
There are a number of important matchups within the matchup when Ohio State takes on Michigan State, but the “winner” of the point guard clash was also the winner of the game in all three of the contests last season.
When Michigan State defended home court against the Buckeyes in the first meeting, Keith Appling scored 15 points and hit two critical free throws in the final seconds of the three-point win. While Aaron Craft did tally six assists and five steals, he was only 2-of-8 from the field and never looked comfortable on the offensive end.
However, Craft got revenge in Columbus by completely dominating Appling. Craft scored 21 points, dished out six assists and held Appling to a mere three points on 1-of-6 shooting. Appling also turned the ball over three times.
Finally, in the Big Ten tournament Craft had one of the best games of his career with 20 points, nine assists, four steals and an impressive 9-of-13 clip from the field. Appling did score 16, but he was 6-of-17 from the field and forced the issue against Craft all game.
Appling is a senior and has dealt with Craft for four seasons, so he knows how tenacious the Buckeye point guard can be on defense. If Craft can have the type of offensive impact he did in the final two matchups last season, Ohio State will be in a great position to pick up a critical road victory.