COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — LaQuinton Ross scored 22 points and Aaron Craft added 12, including a late free throw, to lead Ohio State past No. 22 Michigan State 69-67 on Sunday.
After dealing with injuries and inconsistent play over the last six weeks, Michigan State is hoping to erase that difficult stretch with deep runs in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.The 22nd-ranked Spartans have a chance at earning the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament if they can win at Ohio State on Sunday and get some help.Michigan State (23-7, 12-5) was 18-1 and ranked No. 3 in the AP poll before Branden Dawson – one of the Big Ten’s top rebounders at 8.6 per game – broke his right hand in frustration during a film session Jan. 23. It’s since gone 5-6 and split the two games since his return March 1.The Spartans have also dealt with a seven-game absence by second-leading scorer and rebounder Adreian Payne (sprained foot), and Keith Appling is playing through wrist and hip injuries that caused him to miss three games.Appling shook off those ailments Thursday while helping Michigan State move back into a tie for second in the conference with an 86-76 win over No. 24 Iowa. With 12 points, the senior guard had his first double-digit scoring performance since Jan. 28.Travis Trice, Appling’s replacement in the starting lineup, had a season-high 17 off the bench to lead five players in double figures. The Spartans were finally fully healthy with Dawson’s return March 1, but struggled to a season low in points in a 53-46 home loss to Illinois.Thursday’s win, though, has Michigan State – ranked No. 1 from Nov. 18-Dec. 8 – once again focused on living up to its billing as a national title contender.”We’ve got to get on the road now and get to the Final Four,” Payne said of a goal achieved by every other four-year class in coach Tom Izzo’s 19 seasons. “There have been a lot of excuses. Now, it’s time to man-up and do what we need to do.”Michigan State could aid its chances of reaching its first Final Four since 2010 with a Big Ten tournament championship, which could boost its NCAA seeding. The Spartans would be the No. 2 seed with a win plus a loss by ninth-ranked Wisconsin at Nebraska since the Badgers beat Michigan State 60-58 on Feb. 9.Thanks to Iowa’s loss to Illinois on Saturday, Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) can claim the No. 4 seed for the league tournament with a win Sunday and a Nebraska loss. The Buckeyes split their two games with the Cornhuskers but suffered only one loss to regular-season champ Michigan compared with Nebraska’s two defeats.They’ll finish no better than fifth if Nebraska wins and would slip to sixth with a loss to the Spartans.Like Michigan State, the Buckeyes have dealt with inconsistency this season. They were 15-0 and ranked third in the country when they lost 72-68 in overtime at the then-No. 5 Spartans on Jan
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Theairra Taylor scored 21 points and made a go-ahead layup with 1:32 left as fifth-seeded and No. 23-ranked Iowa held on for a 77-73 win over eighth-seeded Ohio State on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.After…
View gallery Penn State forward Ariel Edwards, right, tries to tie up Ohio State center Darryce Moore in the firs … View gallery Penn State forward Ariel Edwards (23) shoots over Ohio State center Darryce Moore in the first half … View gallery Ohio State guard Ameryst Alston, left, drives on Penn …
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Marcus Hall would like to leave the moment in the past, but it’s forever going to be part of his future. The former Ohio State guard regrets his actions and how far he let his emotions take him, but he will sign his autograph on photos capturing his gesture as he headed up the tunnel at Michigan after his ejection.
+ EnlargeAP Photo/Carlos OsorioFor better or worse, Ohio State’s Marcus Hall will always be known for his actions during and after a brawl with Michigan.He’s something of a legend to Buckeyes fans, already a fixture on T-shirts and a soon-to-be staple of the highlight packages that play up the most heated rivalry in college football. But Hall would rather be known for something other than flipping off a stadium if he had his way, and in the short term he’s still dealing with the fallout of his Michigan Meltdown as he meets with NFL teams and prepares for the upcoming draft. Just more than three months after the infamous incident, Hall is still wrestling with the tangled mix of pros and cons that have followed him endlessly since a few short seconds of madness, sitting somewhere in the middle of trying to move on and embracing his past.
“I can’t ignore it, because when I see the fans, they make it this big deal,” Hall said Friday. “I’m like, ‘No, man, it wasn’t even supposed to be like that.’ … I actually just show up to do signings like every other player, and that picture is what the fans want. I love the Buckeye fans, and they love me.
“But it was definitely by mistake, because I don’t want anybody to think that I’m proud of it or anything like that. I’m more so just trying to take a negative thing and turn it into a positive.”
There wouldn’t have been much downside if Hall had simply been ejected for fighting during the second-quarter brawl with the Wolverines and left the field with a level head. The senior certainly wouldn’t have had to deal with the pain of missing the Big Ten title game due to suspension if he’d simply strolled up to the tunnel and accepted a punishment he admitted was justified in a media session following his pro day workout on campus.
But without his bench-kicking, helmet-tossing, finger-raising tirade, there would be little about Hall that would make him stand out in Ohio State lore, even though he was an integral part of a record-setting 24-game winning streak and started 31 times in his career as a member of one of the most explosive offenses in school history.
There wouldn’t be as many people clamoring for his signature, for starters. But then, Hall might also be able to focus more on his improved flexibility, the noticeable improvement he made technically as a blocker and the great shape he’s in now at 6-foot-5, 313 pounds instead of answering questions about his emotions from prospective employers.
“I just tell them that I got caught up in the moment,” Hall said. “I don’t try to give them this sob story or anything, I just lost it. I just felt like my love for this university and the game came out in the wrong way. … I don’t want to go back and try to point the finger like I wasn’t wrong. I was completely wrong for what I did.
“I feel like it’s good and bad, you know…
Nine Big Ten programs will feature true quarterback competitions this spring, and we’re taking a closer look at the candidates, the circumstances and the stakes of each race. Up next: Illinois. Bill Cubit doesn’t have a favorite, and in the end the Illinois offensive coordinator isn’t planning on needing to make the decision about his starting quarterback.
Any of the three guys competing for that job can operate Cubit’s system, which both eliminates any preference and allows him to simply sit back, sort through the mountain of data he’ll acquire this spring and allow those numbers to make up his mind.
That doesn’t mean the heated competition between Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O’Toole won’t command Cubit’s attention as the Fighting Illini try to name a starter by the end of spring practice, particularly given how much production must be replaced now that Nathan Scheelhaase is gone. But in the end, Cubit’s approach allows him to be a neutral observer, putting all the pressure, the decision and ultimately, the offense in the hands of the guys on the field.
“I pointed it out to them already,” Cubit said before camp opened on Wednesday. “This is how you’re going to be graded, this is what I’m going to be looking for and it’s up to you. I really won’t make the decision, you’ll make the decision. “There are no preconceived ideas or wanting this guy to win it or that guy to win it. I’ve told the guys, it doesn’t make a difference to me who wins it, the best guy is going to win it and give us the best chance of winning. It really doesn’t make that big of a difference to us.”
For the Illini, that’s more a reflection of confidence in the pool of candidates than actual indifference about the leader of the offense, because Cubit has heaped praise on all three guys and isn’t opposed to tweaking his attack based on the strengths of the one who claims the job.
The faith he has in both the depth and talent Illinois has at the most important position on the field takes some of the pressure off this spring, and Cubit joked that “quarterbacks are the least of my worries right now” even while trying to fill the void left by the loss of the multitalented Scheelhaase. But the goal is still to settle on a leader by the end of camp, which will require an in-depth analysis of grades on every single play, throw and decision Lunt, Bailey and O’Toole make to ensure the process works itself out as fairly as possible.
That starts before the snap with making checks in terms of pass protection and the run game. It obviously continues with the read during the play with where the ball is thrown, and it’s picked part and assessed for accuracy after that…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The change in Ohio State’s offensive line is impossible to ignore this spring, even in regard to the only returning starter. For one thing, he’s now lining up at left tackle, swapping sides after a breakout sophomore season on the right for one of the best offensive lines in the nation.
And then there’s the haircut, as Taylor Decker trimmed off his long locks as part of a job shadow program, trying to give himself a more “professional” appearance.
+ EnlargeJamie Sabau/Getty ImagesTaylor Decker is the only returning starter on Ohio State’s offensive line, but even he’ll be at a new position this season.Both developments help drive home the completely new look up front for Ohio State, where even the lone holdover has a new position as part of a makeover of a unit that lost four starters, a group that’s arguably been the strongest in Urban Meyer’s tenure with the Buckeyes. “It’s definitely a different feeling, but I think our focus needs to be not worrying about who lost, but on who we have,” Decker said. “We have really talented guys; they just need to develop confidence in themselves. They can do everything. They just need to realize they can go out and do it play after play after play and be consistent.
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys. Our only issue is inexperience.”
That certainly wasn’t a problem for the Buckeyes a year ago when Decker was the only fresh face in the lineup. Now the only projected first-teamer on the roster with starting experience is guard Pat Elflein, who filled in for a suspended Marcus Hall in the Big Ten championship game after admirably replacing Hall after he was thrown out of the Michigan game.
That leaves plenty for the Buckeyes to sort through this spring, and the process of nailing down full-time replacements for tackle Jack Mewhort, guards Hall and Andrew Norwell and center Corey Linsley might well spill into August. But offensive line coach Ed Warinner isn’t low on options, and the young guys trying to step into those big shoes aren’t short on confidence, either.
“For us, I think it motivates us a unit,” center Jacoby Boren said. “There is no doubt, those guys were freaking awesome, great guys, great players. But we have a lot of good guys here competing, and we’re working hard.
“We’re not working to be like them. We’re going to work to be the best that we are and keep building on that.”
Their predecessors obviously set the bar pretty high during the last couple seasons, setting the tone for an offense that led the Big Ten in scoring and was fifth in the nation in rushing, averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground.
The Buckeyes started preparations for replacing them last season, occasionally cutting back on practice reps for the first unit in favor of the backups in an effort to speed through the learning curve and getting them as much game action as possible. Prospective right tackle Darryl Baldwin, Elflein and Boren figure to benefit from that taste of experience, and Antonio Underwood’s return from knee surgery has gone smoothly enough that he opened camp as the starter at left guard. Behind that starting group, Ohio State has recruited well and could conceivably have players such as converted defensive lineman Joel Hale or Kyle Dodson make pushes for playing time.
And with all those candidates on hand ready to take over, Warinner isn’t losing much sleep, even though he’s looking at a totally different line.
“I’m pretty confident, yeah,” Warinner said…
Updated: March 6, 2014, 9:38 PM ET By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State safety Vonn Bell, figured to be a potential starter for the Buckeyes, will miss the rest of spring practice after knee surgery.Bell tore the medial collateral in his knee and is expected to be unable to return to full-speed workouts until May.A sophomore from Rossville, Ga., Bell had 19 tackles a year ago, including one for minus yardage. He also had an interception.He was expected to start for the Buckeyes, who graduated their three top safeties from a year ago, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett and Corey Brown.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Angry with the way his defense played in its last three games, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is urging his players to attack more and think less.”It’s a fast-paced game (with coaches dealing with getting players) lined up as opposed to it used to be a game based on effort,” Meyer said. ”And I want to get back to that.”The Buckeyes held their second practice of the spring Thursday, and as will be the case throughout the 15 workouts the emphasis is on relying on instinct and playing without restraint instead of following the diagrammed play and reacting.Ohio State surrendered an average of more than 38 points and 539 yards a game while closing out 1-2 in the most important games of 2013. With seven starters back from that unit, Meyer is demanding that, first and foremost, everyone play hard and fast.The defense had a collapse of epic proportions near the end of a program-record 24-game winning streak, all under Meyer in his first two years on the job. The Buckeyes were in the hunt for a spot in the national championship game until, suddenly, they couldn’t stop anybody.His coaches have been put on notice that things will be different. View gallery FILE – In this March 4, 2014 file photo, Ohio State defensive lineman Tommy Schutt runs drills durin … ”It was a combination of things,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said about the problems. ”When things start to go and you lose confidence in what you’re doing, it’s tough. As coaches you don’t do a great job, either. You try to put a finger in all the different holes that you’ve got and … you start trying to stop everything and you don’t stop anything.”They beat archrival Michigan 42-41 on the road to get to 12-0 late last November, but then suffered a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and a 40-35 setback to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.It wasn’t just big plays that killed Ohio State – and there were plenty of those. Opponents averaged 26 first downs in those three games, so they also sustained drives.The Buckeyes allowed 161 yards rushing per game, but absolutely gushed yardage when the other teams passed. Michigan completed 32 of 47 passes for 451 yards without an interception. The Spartans were 24 of 40 for 304 yards with one pick. And then Clemson completed 31 of 40 for 378 with two interceptions.Linebacker Curtis Grant said things had been simplified so far this spring.”Just play fast and have fun out here,” he said was the defensive mantra.Meyer’s biggest concern is the linebackers, who didn’t necessarily have a good year – and that was with an All-American in Ryan Shazier. Now Shazier is gone, leaving early for the NFL draft, and Grant and Joshua Perry are the returning starters. They’ll be pressed for playing time by many others.”He’s concerned, but we’re going to take that as a challenge to stick together,” Grant said. ”We’ll work on the stuff that we need to work on to get better.”Almost all of the line is back, led by Michael Bennett, Adolphus Washington, Joey Bosa and Noah Spence. The secondary is missing starting corner Bradley Roby, who also left early for the draft, along with safeties C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown and Christian Bryant.Two new defensive assistants are on staff. Larry Johnson, late of Penn State, is now the assistant head coach/defensive line. He took the place of former Buckeyes player Mike Vrabel after he jumped to the NFL to take a job with the Houston Texans.Chris Ash, also familiar with the Big Ten from his years at Wisconsin, took over as co-defensive coordinator/safeties and is the nominal replacement for Everett Withers, who became the head coach at James Madison.There are options, particularly at linebacker.Raekwon McMillan, one of the nation’s top recruits, figures to get a look right away. So will fellow incoming freshmen Kyle Berger, Dante Booker and Sam Hubbard.If the defensive players feel everyone’s eyes on them, it doesn’t seem to bother them. At least not at this early date.”I think it’s fun. It helps us get better,” said linebacker Camren Williams. ”If nobody was looking at us and everybody was just expecting us to do what we do and nobody had high expectations for us, I don’t think we’d grind as hard or focus as hard or do everything with so much effort.”—Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAPSports & RecreationAmerican FootballThe BuckeyesOhio State