Written by Caleb Wojcik
Coming off an emotional civil war against Michigan, big flaws in the Spartans' defense allowed the Ohio State Buckeyes to give them their first home loss of the seasonÂ with a score of 79-68.
Right from the tip-off, Ohio State was ready to play. After hitting four three-pointers to go up 12-2, the Buckeyes ended the game shooting 11-25 from three-point land. Every time the Spartans would pull close, especially in the second half, a Buckeye would drain a three.
After the large opening deficit, the Spartans fought back to take the lead 37-34 at the half.
Senior guard Maurice Agerâ€™s 16 points and a few highlight-reel plays by junior guard Shannon Brown were key to the Spartans' first half comeback.
Despite Michigan State gaining a 43-36 lead early in the second half, they failed to stop the Buckeyes offense. Missing senior forward Matt Trannon due to a broken jaw, the Spartans struggled to play fundamental defense. Ohio State dished it to senior center Terrence Dials for an easy bucket or drove and kicked it to an open Buckeye for a three.
Dials ended the game with a team-high 19 points and nine rebounds and senior guard Jekel Foster added 17 points and six rebounds. Every Ohio State starter had at leastÂ three rebounds, which is surprising considering how hard Izzo pushes the importance of rebounding on his players. The Buckeyes out rebounded the Spartans 31-25, including key offensive rebounds towards the end of the game.
Ager finished the night with 26 points while Brown added 17 and senior center Paul Davis scored 14. Michigan State hardly had any help off of the bench scoring-wise, which will be important come tournament time.
After the win, Ohio State, 20-4 (9-4 in the Big Ten), jumps into a tie for first place in theÂ conference with Iowa. Michigan State, 19-8 (7-6), will look to bounce back from this tough home loss against their next opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers, on February 26.