After leading by as many as nine, the No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-2, 2-1) could not hang on as they fell 86-77 to the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (13-2, 4-0). A back-and-forth game from start to finish, the Spartans were able to escape with a victory on the Buckeyes’ home floor.
Kaleb Wesson had a monster performance in the loss, dropping 25 points in what was a Big Ten career-high for the sophomore. He shot 9-of-15 from the floor and added 8 rebounds, but fouled out late in the second period as the Buckeyes tried to battle back.
The Spartans were lead by Nick Ward and Cassius Winston, who scored 21 and 25, respectively. Ward also added seven rebounds, while Winston added a team-high five assists. 18 of Winston’s 25 points came in the second half as MSU shot over 54 percent from the floor as a team.
Ohio State’s defense let them down big time in the second half, allowing the Spartans to shoot over 76 percent from the floor in the period. As a result, the Bucks got outscored 50-34 in the half after outscoring MSU 43-36 in the first.
The defeat gave the Buckeyes their first Big Ten loss of the season, now sitting at 2-1. They will continue to play conference opponents the remainder of the season, their next game coming against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Ohio State won the tip as things got under way at Value City Arena. It took a while for anyone to get the lid off the basket, but when they did it was Nick Ward with an and-one layup at the 17:30 mark to open up the scoring for the Spartans.
The Buckeyes answered on the other end with an alley top layup from C.J. Jackson to Kyle Young. After a Cassius Winston three-ball, Jackson followed with a three of his own. The teams traded a few empty possessions before Matt McQuaid hit a triple. Kaleb Wesson responded with a layup as Michigan State held a 8-7 lead at the first media timeout.
Ward knocked down two free throws out of the timeout, and Kaleb Wesson again answered with a layup as the two teams battled back and forth. After a nifty spin move from McQuaid gave Sparty another inside basket, Jackson nailed a three to put OSU back within two. A backdoor layup from Young on the ensuing possession had the game all tied up at 16 heading into the second media timeout.
Both teams went cold for a stretch before Ward and Jackson matched interior buckets. McQuaid knocked down another three to put Sparty back on top with 8:22 remaining in the first period. Luther Muhammad hit a pair of free throws before another Ward layup had MSU up three just out of the third media timeout.
Kaleb Wesson would hit a layup and Jackson got a steal and a fast break score that put the Buckeyes back on top at the 6:40 mark. Winston got a floater to go on the other end as the two teams traded leads late in the first period. After Wesson and Ward each got close range shots to fall, Ward hit a pair of free throws to put Sparty back up 29-26 with 4:24 to go.
Kaleb and Andre Wesson each nailed a pair of free throws to put OSU back on top by one. An and-one layup from Kaleb Wesson followed by a three-pointer by Duane Washington Jr. put Ohio State up 38-31 with 1:41 remaining in the period as the team found themselves on a 10-0 run.
Kyle Ahrens got MSU back on the board with a deep ball, but Wesson matched it with a three on the other end as the Buckeyes would head into halftime holding a 43-36 lead. OSU hit four of their last four shots to close out the period strong.
Kaleb Wesson had an absolutely dominant opening period, scoring a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds. Jackson added 10 of his own with six boards and five assists despite some questionable shooting decisions. The Buckeyes went 9-of-9 from the charity stripe. Most impressively, they had just one turnover in the half.
Wesson opened the second half scoring with a pair of free throws as Ohio State extended their lead. Ward hit two free throws and McQuaid got a basket inside before Andre Wesson answered with a three-ball in the corner. Winston hit another layup as the Buckeyes led 48-42 with 17:44 remaining.
The Spartans started to heat up a bit, and after free throws from McQuaid and yet another layup from Winston the Buckeyes lead was cut to just 50-46 going into the first media timeout of the second half. Winston would score again out of the timeout, and the OSU lead was cut to two on MSU’s 6-0 run.
Michigan State regained the lead on a three-ball from Aaron Henry, but the Buckeyes got it back on a bank shot from Muhammad. Washington Jr. knocked down a jumper to give OSU a three-point cushion with 14:20 remaining.
Winston continued to give the Buckeyes fits as another inside basket tied the game up at 55 apiece. After Kaleb Wesson got a layup to go, a three from Winston would give Sparty their first lead since the opening period. The lead would change hands on the other end as Wesson would score his fifth straight point, OSU clinging to a 59-58 lead with 11:13 to go.
The Ohio State defense began to crumble a bit, as an open dunk for Ahrens and Winston getting two more at the line had Michigan State up three. Things went from bad to worse as Kaleb Wesson picked up his fourth foul with over nine minutes remaining in the game. Two free throws from Xavier Tillman had MSU up 64-59.
Washington Jr. put a stop to the run with a clutch three-ball as the Buckeyes looked to get back into the swing of things. After a jump ball on Sparty’s next possession, a layup from Andre Wesson had things all tied up again at 64 apiece with 7:41 remaining.
After McQuaid free throws put MSU on top, a flashy put-back dunk by Kyle Young got the crowd into it. However, Ward would convert an and-one layup at the other end to give the Spartans a three-point lead. Andre Wesson answered with a three-pointer, and the game was all tied up with under six minutes to go.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth, with Michigan State taking a three-point lead on a layup by Kenny Goins with 3:32 remaining. After an offensive board and score inside by McQuaid, Ohio State trailed 77-72 as the game began to slip away.
After Kaleb Wesson fouled out with around two minutes to go, the Buckeyes went cold on offense. Unable to get anything to go on that end of the floor, the Spartans pulled away to win 86-77.