#6 Michigan State Spartans Take Out Ohio State Buckeyes at the Big Ten Tournament
The #6 Michigan State Spartans saw their record on the year improve to 26-6 with a 77-70 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. But the sub-story is even bigger for a team that has dreams of March Madness Tournament success and not Big Ten Tournament: Foster Loyer.
The star freshman has struggled this year with his confidence, but with tournament time underway, he found it. As I exited the court a Spartan fan yelled at me, “Write an article about Foster,” but what he doesn’t understand is that at this level, a player’s play writes their own article. He was sensational with 14 points, two steals and three assists while playing 18 minutes.
Spartan Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo raved about the freshman saying, “Foster Loyer came in and made some big, big plays. And to his credit, they were big, big, big, big plays. But Cassius Winston's credit, one of the things you observe as a coach and you kind of try to find out the pulse of your team, he was his big, big, biggest cheerleader. And at one time even told me to leave him in. That shows a little bit of the quality of kid that Cassius is.”
Buckeye coach Chris Holtmann said of Loyer’s explosion, “He's a good player. We saw him in high school. And, sure, when you have, you know, Winston, it's hard to spend too much time talking about his back-up. But we did talk about him. But he played really well. Give him credit. I thought his 3s gave them real life, when he was 3-of-3 and then the one in the zone in the second half when it was a one- or two possession game. I thought his 3s really gave them life.”
The Spartans were led by the amazing Cassius Winston who had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Matt McQuaid had 12 points, four assists, and one rebound. Those two along with Loyer are the only Spartans to score in double digits.
Izzo said of the game, “I give Ohio State a lot of credit. These are tough games when you come in and that second game for them and the first game for us, I think it's a big advantage for that team. I thought that all along. Maybe I've thought that because I think we played in every -- we've had a bye just about every time we've been in this tournament -- and Ohio State, with a young team, played awfully hard. I did not think we had the energy and the focus and the passion that was needed, which falls on me. And I was disappointed with that throughout the game. We got some situations that, Cassius has been a little laid up since the Michigan game. So everybody's wondering why I took him out. It was some bad play but more because of what he's gone through. He hasn't practiced, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. And Kyle Ahrens gave me everything he could. But he just kind of laid it on the line at the end and finally he was in trouble.”
Holtmann said of the game, “Give Michigan State credit. I think they're a terrific, terrific team. Really solid in every way. And I think they have a chance to have a really special, special postseason. So give them credit, first and foremost.”
Izzo added of the game, “But our three main guys, Kenny and Cash and X really struggled early. But we found a way. And the name of this game is to find a way. We turned it over eight or nine times first half, only two the second half. I think that really proves my point that why should you need a halftime to refocus. But sometimes until Nike puts phones on our belts so I can text my guys, I guess I'm going to have to live with that.”
Cassius Winston was Loyer’s biggest fan on the bench and he said of the performance of his understudy, “You saw me -- you know I was going crazy for him. Like I said, I know what that feels like.”
Loye said afterward, ““My teammates are my brothers and you know we have one another’s back and we are happy for each other’s success.”
The Spartans shot 52% from the field including 41% from the three. The Spartans shot an outstanding 86% from the free throw line. The Spartans had 20 assists on 26 baskets.
With this win, the Spartans head coach won his 600th career game. He said of that achievement, “They asked me what that means. And I said, it means good things; you're getting old, and you're 600 shy of Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. It keeps you humble and it makes you realize you haven't accomplished that much yet.”
The Spartans won the battle of the boards 27-24. The Spartans a frustrating 13 turnovers.
Izzo played 11 players including all of his five freshmen.
The Spartans return to Big Ten action on tomorrow at 1PM ET back here at the United Center in Chicago at the Big Ten Tournament. They will play the winner of the Nebraska and Wisconsin game.
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