Tonight’s B1G collision between Ohio State and Michigan State further proves that the top tier team that wins the most games on the road will win the conference championship. Two very even teams battled at the Breslin Center on Saturday night, but it was the home team that played with more poise, control and urgency in the fourth quarter in a nail-biting 59-56 win.
The Buckeyes became comfortable with shooting from long range, hoisting up 25 threes and leaned on their offensive leader Deshuan Thomas to keep themselves in this one throughout the game. The Train would finish with a player of the year like performance. He had 28 points on six threes and 10/20 shooting overall to pace Ohio State. His fifth straight game of 20 points or more.
Despite hanging tough throughout the night, things didn’t look pretty early for the Bucks early.
In the first seven minutes, Ohio State turned the ball over five times and looked lost as Michigan State’s Derick Nix and Adriean Payne capitalized for 8 of the fightin’ Izzo’s 12 points. After a long Travis Trice rebound, the Spartans got the Izzone fired up with a solid finish with a Brandon Dawson finish. On the next possession Dawson would corral a steal, and get to the line on a breakaway. He would sink one from the stripe to give Michigan State a 13-2 lead.
With just under thirteen minutes to go in the half, the Buckeye offense exploded on the perimeter. Led by their biggest offensive weapon. The wheels got moving under the D-Train, as the Ohio State offense would go on an 11-0 run with back to back to back threes. Two Deshaun Thomas bombs sandwiched a beautiful look from Aaron Craft that closed the lead to 13-11.
Both teams would battle back and forth in the final five minutes of the frame. After going scoreless for nearly seven Minutes, Michigan State got to the rack on the back of their point guard Keith Appling.
With Aaron Craft making Derrick Nix and Travis Trice look foolish by blowing past them by them in the paint to give the Buckeyes a 26-4 lead with just under two minutes to play in the first half — Appling took offense.
After back to back buckets by the senior leader, Michigan State went into the locker room up four — 30-26.
The Buckeyes would start off strong in the second. After a ten point performance in the first half, Deshaun Thomas started things off right with a big three to cut the Spartan lead to one. Ohio State would start the half on a 9-4 run — all on buckets from the perimeter. Thomas would hit back to back shots, followed by Lenzelle Smith’s first bucket of the night on a beautiful dime from Aaron Craft to give Ohio State a 35-34 lead.
The Spartans would answer with a 6-0 run of their own created by a missed layup, turnover and two missed Sam Thompson free throws. After layups from Gary Harris and Brandon Dawson, The Buckeyes took a full timeout down six.
Out of the break, Thad Matta set up a perfect three point play for Deshaun Thomas in the corner to make it 42-39. Both offenses would go quiet for the next six minutes as both defenses battled it out on the floor.
Thomas would have the only two field goals for the Buckeyes in a three minute stretch with eight minutes to go. His two layups would make it 48-47 with five minutes to play. The Spartan offense would wake up with a circus one handed hook layup from Keith Appling with less than four minutes on the clock, to give the Spartans a three point lead at home.
With in his veins, Deshuan Thomas nailed his sixth three of the ballgame from along ways out at the top of the key. Thirty seconds later we had a tie ballgame with each team at 50 points apiece.
What looked like an ugly game for good chunks of the first and early second turned to a barn burner.
With two minutes to play, Michigan State got the ball in the hands of the Ohio Big Man Adrieane Payne. From the mid post, Payne got the ball back out and reset to get the re-post feed and blow past a leaning Deshaun Thomas and getting the foul on a three point play.
Ohio State’s Evan Ravenel would then turnover the basketball on the near sideline when the ball knicked off his finger tips. Michigan State had a chance to make it a two possession ballgame inside one minute. Instead, Aaron Craft led his assignment and worked his way to the far corner, trapped Payne with his back to the basket and poked the basketball loose. After working his way past half court, the smooth one found Evan Ravenel on the baseline dunk attempt. Ravenel would not make the basket but head to the line. He’d drain 1/2 to make it 53-51 Michigan State
Aaron Craft would then go to work on defense. The best on-ball defender in the country picked up a steal on his second straight possession and dished off to Thomas for the layup attempt to tie. Thomas would make a great move to the left side block, but couldn’t get the look to fall. He would head to the line though and drain two huge free throws to give him 28 and tie the ball game.
The Spartans would get back to back buckets from Appling, who had a stellar performance tonight with 13 points on the evening. After a fingeroll off the glass, Appling pulled down a long rebound and got to the bucket on a Brandon Dawson pass and breakaway jam.
It looked like the game was over with 20 seconds left to play and a 57-53 difference. Lenzelle Smith though would hit a monster three from the far wing on a pump fake bite to make it a one point ballgame with 8 seconds to play. The Buckeyes would have one last chance after sending Appling to the line. He would drop two free throws to make it a three point ball game.
On the last possession of the ballgame, Shannon Scott went up the far sideline and threw up a bizarre one hander fading away from the basket and with momentum toward the baseline. The Buckeyes still had time on the clock, but it looked like the sophomore thought he could get the foul call with three defenders around him.
With the loss, the Buckeyes fall to 3-3 in the Big Ten. Ohio State shot 40% from the floor in the loss.
The Buckeyes will next play the Iowa Hawkeyes in Columbus on Tuesday, January 22nd. You’ll be able to see that game at 6:30 PM Eastern Time on the Big Ten Network.