COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Senior Jamar Butler said goodbye to the home crowd with 20 points and Ohio State beat No. 17 Michigan State 63-54 Sunday, closing out the game with a 15-2 run to enhance its prospects of landing an NCAA tournament berth.
There won't be a big turnaround to the rematch. The teams meet in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
Othello Hunter added 13 points, including a pivotal one-handed jam of a rebound in the closing minutes, David Lighty scored 12 and Kosta Koufos 11 for the Buckeyes (19-12, 10-8).
Raymar Morgan had 19 points for Michigan State (24-7, 12-6), which was frazzled by Ohio State's defense down the stretch, missing its last six shots from the field with three turnovers.
Ohio State's NCAA hopes were considered dead after it lost four in a row before pulling off two upsets in the final week of the regular season. The Buckeyes beat No. 15 Purdue 80-75 in overtime on Tuesday night.
Despite making runs all day, the Buckeyes didn't break through until a hand-check foul put Butler, one of the nation's top free-throw shooters, at the line with 4:41 left. He hit both shots -- the Spartans were deep into the double-bonus by then -- to put Ohio State ahead 53-52 for its first lead of the game.
At the other end, the Spartans were patient, maybe too patient. Drew Neitzel threw up an off-balance 15-foot fadeaway that missed the rim and resulted in a shot-clock violation.
Ohio State then made it 55-52 when Butler fired a pinpoint pass that Hunter caught for a dunk with 3:35 left.
After Kalin Lucas hit a pair of foul shots for the Spartans, Koufos made a 10-foot half-hook from the baseline and then tried to muscle a shot over Goran Suton. Hunter came in to grab the rebound with his left hand and dunk it, leading to wild cheers from the large crowd at Value City Arena.
Defense was the difference for the Buckeyes down the stretch. Michigan State had two critical shot-clock violations in the last 4 minutes.
Thad Matta collected his 100th victory at Ohio State, running his record to 100-34 in his four seasons.