Ohio State (13-18, 5-15) were more like burrs than Buckeyes during Saturday’s game at Breslin Center, clinging stubbornly to the Spartans (19-11, 11-8) right up to game end.
A solid if workmanlike performance by Michigan State, meanwhile, delivered the Buckeyes their tenth straight loss.
Ohio State came on strong early in the first half, capitalizing on a Tyson Walker foul. Justice Sueing went for a layup to put the Buckeyes ahead, 4-2. Thirty seconds later A.J. Hoggard scored a three-pointer. The Buckeyes never led again.
Spartan three-point shooting has been something to see lately—60% from deep during Saturday’s game. Last week it was a white-hot 73.3% against Iowa. Michigan State has now averaged nearly 40% outside the paint for the season.
Hauser, Akins, Walker, and Hall are Coach Tom Izzo’s long-range artillery.
The Buckeyes didn’t score for almost seven long, cold minutes in the first half, until Felix Okpara made a jumper. The Spartans were already ahead by eleven points. The game could have been a blowout. It felt like a blowout in the making.
But three-pointers by Bruce Thornton and Isaac Likekele trimmed the Spartan lead to seven points. Buckeye Sean McNeal shaved three more points at 6:40 to put the score 21-25, Spartans leading.
Malik Hall replied with a three-pointer and once again the Spartans pulled ahead. That was the pattern for the game: Ohio State pulling up close, Michigan State shifting into third gear and making the Buckeyes eat a double-digit deficit.
Ohio State came on strong again early in the second half. Back-to-back three-pointers by Brice Sensabaugh trimmed Michigan State’s lead again, down to five points. Hauser helped the Spartans pull away again at 13:06 with a three-pointer that put the score 46-56. So, it was back into Deficit Ditch for the Buckeyes.
And they clawed their way out yet again. A three-point jumper by Thorton at 5:39 put the Buckeyes within three points of Michigan State and forced a Spartan timeout.
Tyson Walker gave his team needed breathing room with a layup, and the Spartans fended off the Buckeyes until game ended 84-78 for Michigan State.
Audio went out during the last three minutes of the second half. The studio team took up broadcasting duties until game end.
Michigan State plays again, March 10, at 2:30 P.M.