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Ohio State star Aaron Craft's career comes to an unfitting conclusion

By Tim Graham

Aaron Craft made a reverse layup with 16 seconds left to give Ohio State a lead.

And there was no better candidate for a critical stop on the other end of the First Niagara Center court.

Craft, the two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year, guarded Dayton guard Vee Sanford, a slasher who'd made only three of his 10 shots in their NCAA tournament game.

Sanford dribbled to the right of lane and cut inside. Craft was close enough to feel Sanford's breath. But the shot went up and banked off the glass with 3.8 seconds on the clock.

Craft desperately dribbled down-court and launched a jump shot that rimmed out. Dayton won, 60-59.

"Defense has kind of been my thing," Craft said, "and it's amazing how it's going to end with a kid getting the game winner on me."

Ohio State coach Thad Matta was asked what Craft could've done differently.

"Honestly, me telling him how to play defense would be like me telling somebody how to build a rocket ship," Matta said. "I'll live and die with that kid any day of the year with what he's going to do defensively."

Craft's decorated career is over. He set the Big Ten record for steals and holds Ohio State's assists record. He became the first in school history to record 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals. A pre-med student, he was Academic All-American of the year as a junior. He went 9-4 in NCAA tournament games.

"We wouldn't have been in this position had he not been doing the things that he had done to get us here," Matta said. "You look at his career, in my mind, in the 10 years I've been at Ohio State, he's going down as one of the all-time reatest players to ever put on the scarlet and gray."

Dayton 60, Ohio State 59: How the game was won

By Tim Graham

What it means: The 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers have a chance to reach the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984. The sixth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes are one-and-done for the first time in six years.

Moment of the game: Dayton guard Vee Sanford drove into the paint and banked in a layup with 3.8 seconds left for the victory.

Player of the game: Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton with 12 points and collected a game-high eight rebounds. With 26.3 seconds to play, he was fouled by Shannon Scott while attempting a three-pointer. Pierre converted all three of his free throws to give Dayton a 58-57 lead.

Stat of the game: Dayton didn't score over a span of nearly five minutes in the second half, allowing Ohio State to go on a 10-0 run and take a 45-43 lead.

Streaks and runs: The Buckeyes won their first 15 games this season and then went 10-9 the rest of the way. The Flyers have won 11 of their past 12 and went 11-7 against teams in the RPI 100.

Foreshadowing of the day: About 2:30 into the game, Dayton trailed, 5-0. Ohio State looked every bit the favorite. Dayton guard Jordan Sibert, a transfer from Ohio State two years ago, made a three-pointer in front of his former team's bench and shot a look at his old mates to let them know it wasn't going to be an easy afternoon.

Coming up: Dayton will play the winner of this afternoon's Syracuse-Western Michigan game Saturday in First Niagara Center.

Ohio State vs. Dayton: First-half analysis

By Tim Graham

The Ohio State Buckeyes weren't merely going to show up this afternoon and advance to the field of 32.

The sixth-seeded Buckeyes have won at least three NCAA tournament games each of the past three seasons, but the 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers are proving that little is automatic in March.

Dayton leads the intrastate powerhouse, 33-30, at halftime in the First Niagara Center.

Dayton center Matt Kavanaugh and Ohio State guard Aaron Craft are the leading scorers so far with nine points apiece. Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre and Ohio State center Amir Williams each has six rebounds.

The Buckeyes are shooting only 44 percent, while the Flyers are at 50 percent with a slightly better performance in turnovers and identical rebunding numbers.

Ohio State breezed to a 5-0 lead, but Dayton found its legs and pulled ahead 4:22 into the first half.

Dayton guard Jordan Sibert, a transfer from Ohio State two years ago, got his team on the scoreboard with a three-pointer in front of the Ohio State bench and briefly stared at his former teammates.

Soon after, Devin Oliver added a spirited dunk to tie the score and then a three-pointer off a pass from Sibert for a 10-7 Dayton lead.

Dayton was ahead for over seven minutes until Craft made a couple free throws to give Ohio State a 22-21 edge 8:15 before halftime.

The margin has stayed close since, with multiple lead changes in the final three minutes. Dayton lurched ahead by five points 83 seconds before halftime.

Football with Doug Marrone laced Greg Paulus' coaching career

By Tim Graham

Mike Krzyzewski was an obvious influence on Greg Paulus' basketball coaching career.

Thad Matta, too, of course.

So has Jim Boeheim.

But don't forget Doug Marrone.

That's right. Paulus credits the Buffalo Bills coach for making a difference.

Paulus essentially was immersed in Boeheim's program while growing up in Syracuse. Paulus played point guard for Krzyzewski at Duke.

Now Paulus is an assistant to Matta at Ohio State.

But in between Duke and Ohio State, the two-sport Christian Brothers Academy star decided to give football another whirl. He enrolled at Syracuse in 2009 as a graduate student and won the starting quarterback job in Marrone's first season as head coach.

"I learned a lot about myself, a lot about changing the culture of a program," Paulus said today at the First Niagara Center, where Ohio State will play Dayton on Thursday in the NCAA basketball tournament.

"We've seen where Syracuse was before Coach Marrone and where it is now. It's come a long way, and I'm proud to have had that opportunity.

"Moving forward, I lean on those experiences even though they're different sports. I know what I got out of that, a great deal."

Paulus turned down scholarships to play football at Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.), choosing instead to concentrate solely on basketball. At Duke, he became only the fourth freshman to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists.

He graduated from Duke in four years, leaving him one year of athletic eligibility if he wanted it. With no guarantees, he reported to his hometown program, which had been in shambles and had just hired a first-time head coach.

"It happened very quickly," Paulus said. "I ended up graduating from Duke in May, and the football season starts in August.

"I'm not someone who pays attention to the odds. All I wanted was an opportunity. I knew it was for one year, so all I wanted was a chance to compete for a starting position.

"I made the transition to try to learn the playbook, meet the guys on the team and try to help out the Syracuse program in whatever way possible. It was a quick turnaround to learn everything, but I had a lot of fun with it."

Paulus beat out incumbent Cameron Dantley and redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib for the job. Marrone wanted to establish a new culture, and a winner from a program such as Duke basketball was a gift. Paulus was named a captain.

Paulus' football stat line was mediocre. He completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 2,024 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. The New Orleans Saints invited Paulus to minicamp in 2010 before he focused on basketball coaching full-time.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat," Paulus said. "The opportunity to play football for a year, get my masters from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and have a chance to play for Doug Marrone is something that I'll never forget."

And when the Bills went into opening day with a total of one NFL start among their three quarterbacks, including Duke pal Thad Lewis, did Paulus have any fanciful thoughts?

"No desire," Paulus said with a laugh. "Just to see Coach Marrone do it at the highest level, I was real proud to have played for him."

If the higher seeds win Thursday, then Paulus will face Syracuse for the second time in his coaching career. Ohio State defeated Syracuse to reach the 2012 Final Four.

Meyer: Mack could start for Buckeyes

Rodney McKissic

Count Urban Meyer among the growing list of admirers of UB linebacker Khalil Mack.

Meyer said during the Big Ten conference call on Tuesday that Mack could start for the nation's No. 2 ranked team. Asked about jumping to a quick start in Saturday's game against the Bulls, Meyer quickly turned his attention to Mack, the Butkus Award candidate, who already holds school records for tackles for loss (56) and forced fumbles (11).

"They have a linebacker who could certainly start for Ohio State," Meyer said. "He will be a great NFL player. The more I watch him - I watched him during the summer but not with the same intensity as I've watched the last few days. Excellent player."

Inge hired at Indiana

William Inge, the former Buffalo Bills and University at Buffalo assistant coach, has been hired as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana.

Inge was the Bills assistant defensive line coach under Chan Gailey last season after spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator with Jeff Quinn at UB.

Inge's previous stops were all at the collegiate level including Cincinnati, San Diego State, Colorado and Northern Iowa.

Draft night

Mack-kemba ---Seth Davis provides draft profiles for 40 of the top NBA draft prospects in the country like UConn's Kemba Walker and Butler's Shelvin Mack, pictured right.

 ---The dreams of the members of this draft class are on hold, for reasons completely out of their control.

---Can Jimmer Fredette be an explosive scorer?

---Eric Williams off-season at Niagara has been rather painful.

---Former Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus has been hired by Georgetown as a special assistant coach.

---Boston University has finally hired a new coach.

---Former UCLA stars Ed O'Bannon and Baron Davis will be returning to Westwood this summer in order to complete their studies and recieve their degrees.

---Jason King details Mike Rice's efforts to resurrect Rutgers.

---Rodney McKissic


Which teams will go 12-0 or 11-1?

---Phil Steele examines which teams he thinks can go 12-0 or 11-1 this season, a few of which are UB opponents.

---With an $11.4 million cut in state appropriations looming, regents will vote on Eastern Michigan's annual budget. Combined with a possible $12 million increase in expenses, the school could face a $23.4 million shortfall.

---Rodney McKissic


He's a Tiger

---St. Joe's Chad Kelly announced he's headed to Clemson but he had some nice things to say about UB, who recruited him heavily.

---Meanwhile, UB coach Jeff Quinn is spreading the word about the Bulls while defensive coordinator William Inge is one of seven Division I assistant football coaches and athletic directors taking part in the NCAA's 2011 Champion Forum this weekend in Orlando.

---Rodney McKissic


Does UB have a chance at Kelly?

---Syracuse, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan State and Purdue are all recruiting St, Joe's quarterback Chad Kelly, so it would be shocking if he selects hometown UB, right?

While it would be a major upset if the Bulls land Kelly, a source said UB has a chance and is one of the seven schools he's considering. Kelly will announce his college pick at a press conference Thursday at 3 p.m.

“UB offers a unique scenario for Chad because it’s close to home and he’s really close with his family,’’ a source said. “”They run a wide open offense so UB poses some aspects to really think about.’’

---Rodney McKissic


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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |