Green saves his best for last as Michigan State wins Big Ten Tournament

Draymond Green waited a long time for his first basket of the second half, but he finally broke through at the perfect time.

The senior who missed two shots at the end of the Spartans’ loss to Ohio State exactly one week ago was not going to be denied again.

After 18:24 without a field goal, he confidently drained a 3-pointer to put MSU ahead 67-62.

Draymond Green holds up the Big Ten Tournament trophy after the Spartans beat the Buckeyes. (AP Photo)

That one made all the difference and the Spartans won 68-64 against Ohio State and claimed Tom Izzo’s first Big Ten Tournament title since 2000.

Oh, and following up the regular-season co-championship with a tournament title is pretty sweet, too. But it didn’t come easily, and that makes it that much sweeter.

The Spartans and Buckeyes battled for 40 minutes in a physical, hard-fought defensive contest that epitomized Big Ten basketball as well as any game could.

In the end, Michigan State just battled a little harder — thanks to Brandon Wood and his season-high 21 points.

With the Spartans down 52-45 and Green out after having the wind knocked out of him, Wood had something to say about it. After dishing the ball to Derrick Nix for an easy two, Wood hit two threes in a row.

Following a Brandan Kearney tip-in — off a missed 3-point attempt by Wood — the Spartans completed a 10-0 run and led 55-52.

Wood’s hustle two possessions later might have been the biggest play of all. After missing two free throws, he pulled down the offensive rebound and was fouled by Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft — his fourth. Craft went to the bench for the next four minutes, and the Spartans defense did not allow a field goal with him off the court.

The scoring went back and forth, and after a couple frustrating MSU possessions, Green took a pass from Keith Appling on the win and never questioned his decision — he was taking the shot.

When it left his hand, he was 3 of 13 from the field. When it went in, he was 4 of 14. Normally, that change is insignificant, but this time it changed everything.

And as the Spartans cut down the net following the win, Green was there holding the ladder as his teammates climbed to the top — just like he did all season as they climbed to two conference championships.

Two banners will be in the rafters of Breslin Center from this season, and with how this team is playing, they might not be done adding to the decor just yet.


Posted on March 11, 2012, in Basketball and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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