Look out, this team is starting to put it all together. OSU featured a balanced attack and a huge day on the offensive glass to defeat Sparty 63-54 in the Breslin Center. The win stopped MSU's 14 game home winning streak and gave the Buckeyes their seventh straight victory.
Leading 42-41 with 9:29 left, OSU went on a 13-5 run to take a 55-46 lead with 5:06 to go. Ron Lewis had seven points in the decisive run with a dunk, two free throws and a big three-ball while Othello Hunter scored four points after grabbing offensive rebounds. Shortly after a Drew Neitzel jumper made it 55-48 with 4:33 left, Coach Matta went to a 2-3 zone for reasons unknown and Neitzel promptly responded with back to back threes sandwiched around a Hunter putback dunk to cut the lead to 57-54 with 53 ticks left. Smartly, OSU went back to man and MSU missed their last four field goal attempts (2 threes) while the Buckeyes hit all six of their free throws as the Spartans were forced to foul. OSU closed the game on a 6-0 run to post the nine point victory.
The Buckeyes took a 26-21 lead at the break as Oden produced 11 points, 7 rebounds (6 off) and 2 blocks while MSU coughed up 10 turnovers. Goran Suton kept MSU in it with his own monster first half with 12 points (5-6 FG) and 7 rebounds against Hunter and Ivan Harris. The halftime lead could have been larger but OSU shot just 2-11 (18%) from distance and managed just one field goal in the final 8+ minutes of the first half after taking a 21-13 lead on a Mike Conley jumper with 8:33 left.
When it was all said and done, OSU placed four in double figures led by Oden's 16 points (11 reb). Lewis finished with 11 while Conley and Jamar Butler scored 10 apiece. OSU shot just 38% from the field and only 62% (15-24) from the line but used 16 offensive rebounds to get some easy putbacks and committed just 7 turnovers. The D blocked 9 shots (Oden 5), forced 12 turnovers and held the Spartans to 35% FG shooting. Neitzel put up 21 second half points to keep it interesting but besides Suton's 16 points no other Spartan scored more than four.
Notes: Just a question, really...If Izzo is such a great coach then why is their only underneath-the-basket inbounds play a dangerous 60 feet heave across mid-court to Neitzel? We only stole it once, but there's something to be said for actually forcing a team to defend inbounds plays underneath the bucket...Lastly, Donnie Gray established himself as the worst ref in the conference with yesterday's performance. Two highlights include calling Oden for travelling as he was being mugged on the low block with OSU leading 23-18 and then calling Oden for a phantom moving screen just two posessions later. Was it a coincidence that the two worst calls of the game were shortly after fellow ref J.D. Collins hit Izzo with a 'T'? I think not.