Barring a four or five-day run in the Big Ten Tournament or an unbelievably hot finish, Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament hopes are dead in the water. The Buckeyes (11-14, 3-11) will need to finish 9-11 in the Big Ten to get an at-large bid, and with their current record, that’s looking...…. not great.
With that said, the Buckeyes are now trying to simply end their regular season on a high note and attempt to gain some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament, while also increasing the minutes for younger players to help their development heading into next season.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the losing skid continued on Super Bowl Sunday, falling to the Spartans (16-9, 8-6), 62-41. Michigan State was paced by Joey Hauser’s 22 points on 6-11 shooting, including six three-pointers.
On that note, Chris Holtmann made a noteworthy lineup change Sunday afternoon, giving freshman guard Roddy Gayle his second start of the season. He was inserted into the lineup over Sean McNeil, who had started all but one game this season. Gayle finished the game with five points on 2-6 shooting over 26 minutes, and also had wo rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
Alongside Gayle were Bruce Thornton, Justice Sueing, Brice Sensabaugh, and Zed Key. Tom Izzo rolled with a starting five of Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Joey Hauser, and Mady Sissoko.
The two teams combined to hit four of their first 12 shots en route to a 6-4 Buckeye lead by the first media timeout 5:18 into the game. Sueing knocked down just his second three-pointer over the last five games to put Ohio State up early. The offense didn’t exactly pick up over the next few minutes, with Michigan State scoring five straight to take a 9-6 lead by the 10:46 mark a few minutes later. The Spartans would never trail from that point on.
After a Sean McNeil layup tied the game at nine apiece, Michigan State went on a 9-2 run over the next 2:01 to take an 18-11 lead by the under-eight media timeout with 5:58 remaining. After Key picked up two early fouls and turned the ball over three times, Felix Okpara was forced into the action and the Spartans targeted him as much as possible.
Joey Hauser drains it from deep. pic.twitter.com/km7RlISXzK— Michigan State on BTN (@MichiganStOnBTN) February 12, 2023
Ohio State refused to score the rest of the first half and went to the locker room trailing the Spartans 27-14 at the break. MSU held Ohio State to 19.2% shooting in the first half, including 3-15 (20%) from three-point range. Michigan State wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire either, shooting 12-30 (40%) overall and hitting 3 of their 11 threes, good for 27.3%. But they a) weren’t turning the ball over nearly as much and b) simply needed to be half-competent to outscore Ohio State on a day when the Buckeyes seemingly made the wrong decision every chance they got.
Sueing had five points and six rebounds during the opening stanza for Ohio State. Hauser had nine points and five rebounds, with all nine points coming by three-pointers.
Ohio State showed a little life in the opening minutes of the second half, cutting the deficit from 13 to eight quickly before falling back to a 10-point hole by the first media timeout. Thornton was being more aggressive getting to the basket and overall the team seemed more energized on defense, but a double-digit deficit is still a hell of an assignment for one of the worst defensive teams in the B1G.
The Buckeyes cut the deficit to five points momentarily, but Michigan State, led by Walker, knocked down some tough, contested shots to push the lead back to 49-35 with 6:54 remaining in the game. After cutting the deficit to 38-33 with 11:24 remaining, the Buckeyes hit one of their next eight shots and fell behind by double-digits once again. Walker finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals over 34 minutes.
Ultimately, that strong push that got Ohio State back within five was not enough, as the Spartans regrouped and knocked down enough tough shots to bury the Buckeyes on their home court. It is the 11th loss for Ohio State over their last 12, and they travel to Iowa and Purdue this upcoming week.
If you decided to dive into those wings and buffalo chicken dip early today and forgot to watch Ohio State’s sixth-straight loss and 11th in their last 12, here are a few key moments and runs that helped carry Michigan State to victory in Columbus:
Ohio State did not take care of the rock early
After turning the ball over 15 times Thursday night in their loss to Northwestern, the Buckeyes came out on Sunday afternoon and turned it over seven times over the first 9:14 against the Spartans. Key had three early turnovers, but Thornton, Sensabaugh, and Sueing each had a hand in the turnovers as well.
This is despite the fact that Michigan State is one of the worst teams in the nation forcing turnovers, having forced just under 10 turnovers per 40 minutes this season. The Buckeyes nearly matched that number in the first 10 minutes alone.
Ohio State finished the game with 11 turnovers, which meant they gave up the rock just four more times over the final 31 minutes. That, clearly, didn’t change a whole lot.
Spartans take their biggest lead of the game, 18-11
McNeil tied the game at nine points apiece momentarily with 8:40 remaining in the first half, but Hauser knocked down his second three-pointer of the game to make it 12-9 14 seconds later. Michigan State went on a little run after this to take an 18-11 lead, courtesy of back-to-back buckets from freshman big man Jaxon Kohler. Kohler, like Okpara, did not start, but the former caused some serious problems for the latter below the basket in the early going.
Okpara finished the game with six rebounds, a block, and a steal over 16 minutes. He took two shots and did not score. Kohler finished with six points over 13 minutes.
Buckeyes look befuddled, fall behind big early
The Spartans threw a mix of man-to-man and zone at the Buckeyes in the first half, confusing their ballhandlers and making things look extremely difficult in the first half. Ohio State was turning the ball over at a high rate, but most of the time it wasn’t MSU forcing a turnover, it was just the Buckeyes being lackadaisical with the ball or forcing a pass that didn’t need to be forced.
After McNeil tied the game with 8:40 remaining in the first half, Ohio State got one made basket over the next 6:08, and that one basket was a turnaround prayer by Sueing as the shot clock expired. During that 6:08 where Ohio State could not score to save their lives, Michigan State turned that tie game into a 22-11 lead.
McNeil gets moving, Ohio State cuts it to single-digits
After scoring two points on a layup in the first half, McNeil knocked down consecutive three-pointers early in the second half to get the Buckeyes back within nine points, 38-29. The home team came out with a ton of energy on the defensive end and started hitting shots finally, but still trailed by a considerable margin with 12-plus minutes remaining.
McNeil finished the game with a team-high 10 points on 4-13 shooting. He also had one steal. McNeil was Ohio State’s only double-digit scorer.
Spartans go on 11-2 run to pop the Buckeye bubble
With roughly 11 minutes remaining, Sensabaugh hit a tough, contested two-point jumper to cut MSU’s lead to 38-33. But after that, the Spartans outscored Ohio State 11-2 over the next four-plus minutes to go ahead 49-35 with 6:54 remaining. The Buckeyes’ defense was stout on most possessions during the run, but Walker and Akins especially were knocking down some contested looks that were not dropping earlier. The crowd really got into it and was roaring for a moment, but that Spartan run quieted things down considerably.
Sensabaugh struggled for the third-straight game, finishing with eight points on 3-14 shooting over 27 minutes. He was 1-7 from three-point range and did not grab a rebound.
Akins finished with eight points on 4-11 shooting over 25 minutes. He missed all six of his threes, but also grabbed nine rebounds and had one steal.
Ohio State (11-14, 3-11) has three days off before flying to Iowa Thursday night to face off with the Hawkeyes (16-9, 8-6). The Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes back on January 21, 93-77, and now look for the season sweep. Ohio State’s game with Iowa will tipoff on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 16.