The Buckeyes got out to great start against the Spartans behind a quick shooting start from freshman D'Angelo Russell. Russell nailed two early three-pointers to put the Buckeyes up by four midway through the first half. But Russell and company became complacent and started settling for outside shots too early and too often in the first half. Freshman guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairns Jr. pushed the pace late in the first half for the Spartans and sparked a 15-2 run for Michigan State to end the half leading by nine, 33-24.
In the second half, the Buckeyes picked it up on the defensive end. Amir Williams and Jae'Sean Tate did a solid job of protecting the rim and starting the fast break. Shannon Scott nailed back-to-back three-pointers to get the Buckeyes back into the game, and Sam Thompson's leak out dunk had the game tied at 46 with 7:26 to play in regulation.
In the end, it wasn't enough. As Michigan State held court, giving them a tournament resume defining win but providing more frustration for the Buckeyes.
3 things we learned
1) The Buckeyes and the Spartans always play it tight. Five out of the previous six meetings between Ohio State and Michigan State were decided by five or less. This one was no different. Despite multiple runs by both teams, the Buckeyes and Spartans ended up tied with less than five minutes to play in regulation. After a Denzel Valentine three ball gave Michigan State the lead, the Buckeyes trailed by three with less than three minutes left.
Senior Sam Thompson hit a huge three ball to tie with 30 seconds left, but Denzel Valentine put a dagger into Ohio State's heart with a fall away triple with 3.2 seconds left. It always seems to come down to the final possession between these two, but the Buckeyes couldn't come out on top this time.
2) The Buckeyes are so much better when Shannon Scott plays with aggression. With D'Angelo Russell struggling from the floor, Scott picked up his slack in this one. The senior scored nine points in the second half when the Buckeyes needed it most. It started early with his attacking style early. Scott was getting into passing lanes and attacking the rim when ever he could. He stepped into his jump shots in big moments and made sure he showed senior leadership on the road in a hostile environment.
3) Every day the 14th. Saturday was a day of hugs and kisses, and Denzel Valentine continued his love for playing against Ohio State. It seems like Valentine always kills the Buckeyes and today was no different. Valentine's shooting from behind the arc put the Buckeyes behind the eight ball all game long. Valentine's 17 points on 5-of-9 from behind the arc, including a huge three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left buried the Buckeyes. His excellent vision and sweet shooting stroke make him an incredibly difficult matchup for Ohio State forwards to cover away from the basket. His big jump shot with just seconds to spare to help Michigan State hold serve at home could be the difference between a NCAA tournament berth and an NIT invitation at the end of the season.