It took two extra sessions for the Michigan State Spartans to finally defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 62-59 on Sunday. Junior guard Shannon Brown led the team with 20 points against a team that coach Tom Izzo called, â€œthe best shooting team Iâ€™ve seen ever on film.â€
Defense was the theme for this game and both teams struggled to find open looks. While Ohio Stateâ€™s star center Terence Dials accumulated 19 points and 10 rebounds in the game, the Spartans were able to hold him to just eight points in the first half. Coach Izzo also got his team to contain Dials for the majority of the game without using a double team.
At the end of the first 20 minutes, Michigan State held a 29-25 lead. The Buckeyes came out all over the visiting Spartans defensively in the second half, holding them to only 17 points.Â The limited Spartan scoring allowed the Buckeyes to claw their way back into the game and send the battle into overtime. The staunch defense was most prominent in the first overtime period, in which both teams were only able to put up four points.
â€œIt was a big win because we had to win it in a defensive way, and we had to win it in the rebounding category,â€ Izzo said.
He also commented that the game reminded him of the type of play displayed by his 2000 championship team.
This defensive style of game was one that has not been typical of the Spartans this season. Many of their games have been shootouts, as has been the trend throughout most of Big Ten basketball this season.
Michigan Stateâ€™s strongest offensive play came from their big men. Senior center Paul Davis finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Davis also had two clutch free throws in the final seconds of the second overtime to clinch the victory.
In such a physical game, some of the strongest play also came, as one might expect, from the football player Matt Trannon. His 14 points, 11 rebounds and tough defense were what the Spartans needed to put them over the top. Towards the end of the game, Trannon also split his upper lip when he was fouled on a dunk and had to receive stitches after the game.
In such a defensive minded game, Michigan State was still able to shoot around 45-percent from the field. On the other end of the ball, Ohio State was held to under 35-percent. What kept the Buckeyes close was their three-point shooting, led by Matt Sylvester. In most games, 24-percent from behind the arc wonâ€™t get the job done, but when the team is willing to jack up 29 long bombs, those points can add up quickly. Their ability to hit from long range allowed them to be very dangerous in the two overtime sessions.
The victory over Ohio State was very important for the Spartans. The win gets them back to 2-2 in the Big Ten, which is not bad considering their first four games were against ranked teams and three of them were on the road. In the Big Ten this year, road wins are tough to come by against anyone and each one is an extra boost towards a conference title. Michigan State now has five days off before they face Iowa at home on Saturday. This will give them adequate time to get some rest, as well as work out some rough spots in practice.
Friendly faces could be seen behind the Michigan State bench at Sundayâ€™s match-up. Former Spartans Tim Bograkos, Jason Andreas and Andre Hutson were present at the game. Freshman guard Travis Walton is a native of Lima, OH and many of his family members were there to cheer him on.
â€œI felt like the old guys were back and we kind of played our old style,â€ Izzo added.