Opportunities Squandered in Loss at Michigan State

By Kyle Rowland on January 19, 2013 at 11:20p

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Shannon Scott could do nothing but bury his head into his jersey. The three-pointer that was to send the game into overtime barely hit anything. It was a stunning end to an otherwise glorious game. 

Heartbreak in East Lansing.

Michigan State had several opportunities to put the game away, leading 46-39 midway through the second half. But Ohio State refused to play the role of road team that becomes overwhelmed in the final minutes. That’s why the Buckeyes found themselves with a chance to further solidify their status as a Big Ten contender with 7.9 seconds left.

Trailing by three, Ohio State was 94 feet away. But it still had a chance. Deshaun Thomas had scored 28 points, including a career-high six three-pointers, placing a target on his back and chest that could be seen from Traverse City.

“I was knocking down shots all night,” a truthful Thomas said.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta knew what his counterpart was thinking.

“Michigan State knew we were going to go to Deshaun,” he said. “We would’ve liked to have got it to him there.”

At the end of the first half, a similar scenario played out. Ohio State had the ball with 21 seconds left, but Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo opted to foul the Buckeyes twice in the final five seconds because the Spartans had two fouls to give. The end result was a desperation three-pointer from Aaron Craft that had little chance of going in.

So when the No. 11 Buckeyes went to the bench before the final possession, Matta reminded his players that due to a three-point lead, Michigan State might foul to send Ohio State to the free throw line. It proved to be a horrible miscalculation.

Scott took the inbounds pass and went upcourt. When the foul never came, he appeared panicked and threw the ball toward the rim, but more than three seconds still remained. Scott was hoping for a whistle that never came. The ball also never came close to the rim.

“I was relieved,” Izzo said.

Michigan State 59, Ohio State 56.

Scott pulled his jersey over his head and Thomas walked away in disbelief. But another flashback to the first half tells a story of Scott bringing the Buckeyes back from the brink of a blowout.

With the home crowd in a frenzy well before the opening tip, Michigan State started with much more energy than Ohio State. The Spartans scored the first 10 points of the game and led, 13-2.

Then Scott entered the game, and Ohio State scored the next 15 points.

The rest of the first half seesawed from one side to the other, until 17th-ranked Michigan State scored the final four points to take a 30-26 lead at the break. Ohio State was plagued by eight first-half turnovers – three by Craft – which led to 11 Michigan State points.

But the real problem for the Buckeyes was not putting the ball into the basket. The talk of Ohio State finding a second scorer has been a tiresome theme. Game after game, though, the same problem continues holding the team back.

Thomas had few issues on offense.

Take Thomas’ 28 points and 10 field goals away and Ohio State is left with 28 points and nine field goals. Astounding figures.

Lenzelle Smith Jr., 2-of-7 with six points, was Ohio State’s second-leading scorer.

“You’d like to have everyone in double figures,” Matta said. “But Deshaun was smooth and efficient and it was a tremendous effort by him.”

It was Thomas who tied the game at 50 with a three-pointer at the three-minute mark. On the ensuing possession, Adreian Payne put the Spartans back in front with an old-fashioned three-point play. Ohio State had no interest in backing down, though.

Craft twice stole the ball, leading to free throws from Evan Ravenel and Thomas to tie the game at 53. After Keith Appling made an easy layup, Craft had a chance to give the Buckeyes the lead. Ohio State inbounded the ball to Thomas under its own basket and his defender fell down. But Thomas noticed Craft wide open in the corner. He swung a pass to him, but Craft’s 3 was off-target.

Michigan State used a fastbreak to take a four-point lead. Craft sprinted down the court and found Smith open for a 3 to cut the lead to one. Two free throws from Appling gave the Spartans a three-point advantage setting the scene for Scott’s demoralizing miscue.

Appling led Michigan State with 15 points, followed by Payne’s 14. Branden Dawson had 10 rebounds.

For Dawson, it was a performance to savor. When Ohio State last visited East Lansing, he suffered an excruciating season-ending ACL injury. Michigan State led, 24-9, when he fell to the floor. William Buford would end the day with a game-winning shot from the top of the key to give Ohio State a share of the Big Ten championship. Many believe Dawson’s injury contributed to Michigan State’s early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Dawson said this week. “March 4.”

Saturday represented the first home win over Ohio State in three years for Michigan State. The Buckeyes had won the past two and four of the past six in the Breslin Center.

The game marked the 200th conference game at the venue that opened its doors in 1989. Michigan State has won over 80 percent of its games versus Big Ten competition. It has long been considered one of the toughest arenas to win in.

“When you play at Ohio State, everybody comes out,” Ravenel said. “The crowds get into it, and everybody brings their ‘A’ game, so every venue in the Big Ten is tough to play at.”

Ohio State’s final possession became the biggest talking point due to its bizarre nature. But the Buckeyes had plenty of opportunities as the second half winded down. Turnovers, missed shots and a lack of rebounds ultimately did them in. Michigan State had a 34-25 advantage in rebounds. Ohio State had just six offensive rebounds.

The ever-competitive Big Ten requires focus each and every night. Tough losses come and go. Iowa visits Value City Arena on Tuesday, forcing Ohio State to forget about a heartbreaking defeat and making Scott rewire for another heroic moment.

“That’s the beauty of basketball,” Craft said. “You don’t have to wait a week like you do in football. You get to play right away, and that’s what you want to do when you lose a game like this.”


Comments Show All Comments

jaxbuckeye's picture

So tired of the way Matta manages the rotation.  Ross needed to be in the game to open things up.  People talk about his inconsistancy but the only thing that's been inconsistant is his minutes.  How can you expect the guy to get into any kind of rhythm if he never knows if he's going to play or how long he will be out there.  He needs GAME experience.  The team NEEDS scoring.  Total failure on Matta's part.  This team will NEVER win a NC with him coaching.

Clmm297's picture

Who is the coach that will bring a national championship to OSU if it is not Matta?

buckeye4life050233's picture

Good question, but still Matta isn't going to get it done unless we have 5 all american's as a starting lineup like kentucky had.  Our team always plays timid in closing seconds almost hoping and praying other teams will make mistakes for us.  With the team we have this year our only hope in games is if we can get on a 5 or 6 game tear where we shoot 60 percent otherwise the players who aren't contributing any points somehow then decide not to play 100 percent on the defensive end.  As well as the all so simple free throw line that always seems to elude the buckeyes.  Your in college make your free throws.

d5k's picture

It really seems like you are making all of this up. Our only hope in games is getting on a 5 or 6 game tear? wtf does that mean?

petebuc52's picture

Easy jaxbuckeye that kind reasonable post could get downvoted to hell for being too real lol.
Truth be told Thad always gives the "Q is defensive liablity on the court" coachspeak, when asked about Q. So on a day when he seemed active on DEFENSE & O. why didn get any minutes in the second half until the final seconds?  Doubt if any of the dispatch guys ask that smh... But hey thad's a great coach and i just watch basketball what do i know *shurgs*....Anyway Go Bucks!

d5k's picture

If Ross could guard a big guy in the post I would want him in but he hasnt earned to have more minutes than Thompson. Scott is the bench guy that should be starting. You guys are blind if you think Ross is adding more value on the court than Scott.

OSUNeedles's picture

What has everyone seen from Ross that makes them so confident in him? I feel like he tends to be out of control & makes a lot of mistakes. I know he was hyped coming in but I feel like Della Valle would almost do more to pull defenders. Only problem is, that would give us about an 8 guard lineup on the floor.

d5k's picture

Who are you taking out? Scott has been amazing and imo should start over Smith. And Id rather have Thompson over Ross most of the time. Ross has earned 15 mins per night but thats about it unless we can go small and leave Amir and Ravenel out against a team like michigan or purdue. He still turns the ball over too much including not being ready for crafts pass in crunch time tonight. And while his d has improved it is still light years behind Smith and Thompson.

Toilrt Paper's picture

For every basket Ross makes he costs the TEAM 4 points. Ross got plenty of playing time against early season weak opponents and looked good. BUT, in big games against good teams he was a complete failure. Agaisnt Duke, Kansas and Illinois he was a combined 4 of 17 shooting, 3 rebounds, 6 turnovers, and zero assists. Matta would love Ross to be a player, but he isn't. The more minutes Ross gets in Big Ten games the more problems for Ohio State to overcome. Craft, Smith, Thompson and Scott "understood" early in ther time at Ohio State. Ross doesn't get it yet. He plays like a high school player instead of like a man. Does he look like he's spent anytime doing any strength training?

d5k's picture

I think you are taking it a bit too far but yes he is our 8th best player right now. Not sure what these other guys are seeing other than hearing hype last year. Look at his 3 point and turnover stats. And Thompson is better at everything else but jumpshots. Ross needs to be 40+ from 3 to get Thompsons minutes. I think Smith needed to be on the bench more tonight as a mild criticism.

petebuc52's picture

If you have dvr, go back and watch the first half to show yourself how off base your "cost the team four points" statement is in this game.. If you think Ross stunk up the joint in the 1st half and played revolving door defense then cool you were watching something I wasn't
Funny Ross was in for the final play when points were needed I dont even know how he was in since he was playing so horrible lol..and since were going back to our games against ranked teams this year (1 win 4 losses) when is it ok to question some of thad's moves (note: he's under 500 against ranked teams since he's been here, check it) not saying he's a bad coach but i notice any questioning of his recuriting, gameday coaching, or program in general is met with complete butt-hurt by some of you. It's not personal it's basketball smh..

jaxbuckeye's picture

Yeah way to cherry pick.  Funny how you fail to mention that in those same 3 losses, the rest of the team was: Aaron Craft (9 for 34), Lenzel Smith (10 for 34), Sam Thompson (5 for 21), and D Thomas (19-46).  Everyone talks about Thompson and I see absolutely NOTHING from him except an occasional slam.  He never hits the jumper (0-5 against Illinois) and I watched his guy continuously crash the boards against Michigan St.  The fact of the matter is you can talk defense all you want but if you can't score more points than the opposition then you lose.  There are two people on this team that can score, Thomas and Ross.

petebuc52's picture

@Jaxbuckeye wait, Sam is on ESPN top plays for his dunks so he must be good lmao!!! Some rather be right with their point than real with what they'er watching; Because talking about this game, the kid (ross) needed more minutes in the 2nd half flat out..

njclebuckeye5's picture

Feel terrible for Scott. Played great the whole game on both ends, and was a huge reason we had a chance to win. It's still really hard to tell a competitive player to forget about it because "one play doesn't lose a game." Hope he bounces back instead of dwelling on it.

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

highwire's picture

Feel awful for Shannon Scott...it's alright young man, you're just getting started.

buckeye4life050233's picture

I find it o so funny how whenever we are playing a team where an opponent shoots like thomas did and puts up 28 or 30 pts we seem to always lose but not the other way around

RedStorm45's picture

South Carolina last year?

Poison nuts's picture

I'm just glad Deshaun did come back this year so that there is, you know, at least one scorer. This team would be in very bad shape had he left...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

RedStorm45's picture

Marc Loving better be one helluva scorer next year.

d5k's picture

It seems this way but since nearly every set is designed around Deshaun this year, for good reason, he is getting a huge number of attempts. The offense will have to change but its not.like we would score 15 less points per game or something.

RedStorm45's picture

So much for finishing out first halves strong, something we saw the last 3 years.  Matta has to know MSU is going to foul, and they wait until 8 seconds to get into the play?? Also, why take out the spark in Scott? And sit him the first 5-6 in the 2nd half?
This might be the most frustrating Thad team to watch.  One scorer, inconsistent guard play, lazy rebounding at times, nothing inside, stagnant offense.
So, how do you get better at free throws? Practice.  And perhaps coaching if your technique sucks or whatever.  Why does Matta always seem to get a pass on this?

ATXbucknut's picture

We are just not as good of a team as we have grown accustomed to since Matta took over. Yes, recruiting does seem to be down right now, but I am not ready to throw Matta under the bus just yet. 
Our guards are pretty solid, but we are terrible in the post at both ends of the court.  Each player seems to have his strengths as well as his weaknesses. I am positive that taking player A out of the rotation and giving more time to player B is not the answer.  No one other than DT has shown they deserve to play 40 mins.
We could be back on top of the B1G in 2-3 years. All it takes is one killer recruiting class.

tampa buckeye's picture

Relax they lost by 3 on the road. At msu!!! They will get better.

Brutus's picture

I learned three things today.  First, Matta is an awful coach. There are at least 20 people on this site who know more about basketball than he does.  Second, there is no question that we would probably be undefeated right now if Ross just got more playing time. Just ask the aforementioned 20 people on this site. Third, I didn't think it was possible, but we are actually more insufferable a fan base in basketball than football.
Ok, snarkiness aside, this team reminds me of MSU teams of the past.  Flawed but tough. Inconsistent but always dangerous.  I won't worry until we start losing these games at home.
And way to stick together as a team at the end of the game today. Every player was off the bench trying to console Scott. I would have preferred he made a better play, but it was nice to see the team walk off with their heads up. 

d5k's picture

I think any reasonable fan would be happy with winning 1 of the last 2. The big ten is tough. There will be more losses for everybody so please dont invent strategic reasons for the losses.

Brutus's picture

Not sure what you mean but I'm pretty sure you missed the intent of my post.

d5k's picture

Was adding to your post.

Brutus's picture

Got it.  It sounded like we were arguing the same point but I wanted to be sure.

BuckeyesMJ's picture

If we could hit free throws we wouldn't of had to chuck up a running 3 at the buzzer! I could roll off the couch with a hangover and shoot free throws better than these guys! Any of them!

RBuck's picture

FWIW: Izzo said they were going to foul on the last play only if Thomas got the ball.\
He did his homework.

Long live the southend.

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

Can someone please explain how Smith Jr. is starting on this basketball team?????  Sure, he can get hot from time to time (still waiting on him to get hot this yr) - but in reality he is good for 7-9 pts a game and at least 5 turnovers / baffling plays that make you shake the noggin!!!!!
Is Q so bad in practice that he can't even get ahead of Smith?  Seriously - he can't do any worse and his offensive game appears to be smoother than Smith's.  Look at the one play yesterday where he took his defender to the basket and scored on him - more of that is exactly what this team needs.  I just hope he doesn't get frustrated and transfer this summer - cause if we think this yrs team can't score (and they can't) then what will happen next yr (I cringe at the thought).
We need the next four games before the roadtrip to scUM!

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Smith is a fantastic offensive rebounder and a good defensive rebounder.  Q not so much

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

I must be watching a different team then you.  Granted Smith Jr. is WAY better then I ever was or would be but to use the word "fantastic" in anything related to his game is a stretch! 
We are a decent team but not great.  This team loses at least 6 league games (probably more), still goes to the tourney and depending on matchups COULD make the sweet 16. 
If Matta gets to 20 wins next yr w/ the roster he has coming back, he should get coach of the yr.

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Smith is the best offensive rebounder on the team.
Craft may be the best defensive rebounder

d5k's picture

Our best lineup atm is Craft Scott Thompson Thomas Ravenel. Obviously theres some irrational obsession with Ross but he has a way to go to play team basketball. But seriously this is not the game to freak out after. The only legitimate loss to complain after was Illinois. After Kansas you could see whatwe are good at and bad at. Playing or not playing Ross isnt holding us back from dominating.

Baroclinicity's picture

I think people see the ceiling of Ross as a scorer as higher than anyone you listed except Thomas.  The lack of a second scorer is arguably the most glaring issue this team has.  Let's see what he can do with consistent playing time.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

jaxbuckeye's picture

It is not irrational.  People see this team for what it truly is: a grind-it-out defensive team that will be good enough to do OK in the tournament but has no chance of winning it all.  It's like watching a Mike Fratello team.  This team not only needs the points but the threat of Ross to loosen up the defense and making scoring easier for EVERYONE.  Why is it OK for them to accept the KNOWN offensive deffeciencies of Craft, Scott, Thompson, and Smith but it's not OK to accept the PERCEIVED defensive deficiencies (not proven) of Ross?
You can say that Matta sees them everyday at practice, but we see the product out on the floor.

d5k's picture

I see the product on the floor.  Ross has been as inconsistent on offense as defense (turnovers, not making as many 3's as Smith Jr) while Thompson has been improving on offense (except hitting open 3's) and tremendous on defense before yesterday.  I think Scott is probably our 3rd best player at the moment and deserves 30 minutes a game.  I think Ross should get 20 minutes rather than 15 maybe but he's not playing like a starter in the games (let alone practice probably).  Amir hasn't taken advantage of the starting opportunity.  
Btw, you can win a lot of games with athleticism and great defense with 1 stud scorer.  See Syracuse with Melo, UConn a few years ago and many other examples.  We really just need Amir to be more of a release valve inside and not have the multiple empty possessions in bunches we seem to have.  We run a ton of pick and roll this year but you never see an effective mismatch postup off a switch even let alone a perfect dive to the bucket for a dunk by Amir.  He just doesn't get offensive basketball it seems yet.

petebuc52's picture

DSK good post..Btw Syracuse plays zone and as good as DT is he's not Melo, UConn a few years back K. Walker(star/clutch) with solid play from J. Lamb (we have nobody on lamb's level as a 2nd option)and mutiple bigs..But i agree with the point you were making..
This team lacks mental toughness(some physical toughness) imo, struggles in half court(should play at a faster pace), no low post offense of note, and pretty much is what it is at this point in the season; a good defensive squad with serious problems outside of DT on the offense side..smh  Anything can happen, i just dont forsee a long run in the NCAA's.. But what do I know Im just a fan whom wants his team to win but doesnt watch games with blinders on..Go Bucks

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Despite the 'investment' we now have in A Williams, we may need to move on if scoring is part of the job description for our bigs.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Have you ever actually PLAYED the game?  If you are only going to give Ross a few minutes you might as well not play him at all.  With getting so few minutes he has no chance to get into the flow of the game and is constantly looking over his shoulder.  The guy needs time on the floor.  Period.  Matta squandered that during the 1st half of the year. 
Thompson has been improving on offense?  Pretty funny because when I look at the stat sheet, you know, the one you use to dispell Ross, it says otherwise.  The guy can jump.  We get that.  But so could Harold Miner.  Thompson and Smith aren't horrible players but they aren't great either.  Neither has the ceiling of Ross and that is a fact.  I would rather take the chance with Ross than stay the course and know they will be LUCKY to make it to the Sweet 16.
Basketball is about time on the floor.  Matta overplays some while underplaying others.  It's the reason why, unless he gets a Melo type player (comparing Thomas to Melo is laughable), he will NEVER win a championship.

d5k's picture

The point is when you factor in all facets of the game Q is our 6th best non big at the moment. I would like to see him get more minutes at the expense of Smith who I think should be our #3 guard with how well Scott has played. Basically I dont like the Smith Scott Craft all together lineup. Id rather Ross be in there for Smith when Thompson goes out and Scott and Craft are in.
Not sure where you interpreted any comparison of DT to Melo in ability. Talking about the structure of the team and saying you can win with defense and the reason we arent better has as much to do with not being as good on d as last year when theoretically we should be better without hiding Jared to an extent. We also arent rebounding outside of DT who is proving he is a first round borderline lottery guy imo.

RedStorm45's picture

1-4 against ranked teams...one of those teams won't be ranked anymore come tuesday.

moopdawg's picture

Definitely need a second scorer, but it doesn't help when we have careless turnovers.  I love Craft's defense, but its Craft that has been struggling to take care of the ball when he's at the point.  Lots of wasted possessions. 
As far as Scott goes, I just wish he could shoot better.  I know hindsight is 20/20, but it makes me sick that Burke is at the school up north and we have 2 point guards who can't consistenlty knock it down from 17 feet.
Imagine if our guards weren't so good on defense.  We'd really suck.  Good news is we've still got a ways to go until March.  Lots of time to improve.