On a night seemingly conceived in the inner circles of basketball hell, Michigan State overpowered Ohio State, 76-67, and ousted it from the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago on Friday.
Despite a late rally that chipped away at a 17-point deficit in the second half, the Buckeyes could not overcome an uninspiring outing in which they shot poorly percent and committed 12 turnovers.
For the first time since 2008, they won't play in the league's semifinals. Instead, Tom Izzo's club held on for the win and will play Maryland on Saturday.
D'Angelo Russell, the freshman guard, led his team with 19 points, but appeared to struggle against the physicality of the Michigan State defense, which harassed him all game long. Senior guard Shannon Scott had 13 points and senior forward Sam Thompson added 11 points.
Ohio State, which played from behind for most of the contest, was plagued by several cold spells, including a nearly six-minute scoring drought in the second half. It was then that the Spartans started to flex their muscles and staved off the Buckeyes once and for all.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||MICHIGAN STATE|
|23-58 (40)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||29-61 (48)|
|7-19 (37)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||7-21 (33)|
|14-20 (70)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11-18 (61)|
The Buckeyes opened the contest by missing 14 of their first 18 shots. As their tries hopelessly clanked off the rim and clunked off the backboard (or, in some cases, just missed the basket altogether), Michigan State surged ahead by 16 points.
Behind Russell, though, Ohio State countered with a 7-0 run to whittle the deficit. The Spartans regrouped, though, and led by eight points at halftime.
The game turned into a stalemate when the second half opened with a spectacularly miserable display shooting by both squads, which missed a total of 10 straight shots before Denzel Valentine threw down a powerful dunk to break the drought.
From there, Michigan State seized control of a game that had seemed to start tilting toward Ohio State. They pushed their lead back to double-digits by battering the offensively-hapless Buckeyes inside and out.
Ohio State rallied with an 8-0 run late in the half, but it was too little too late for a team that has grown accustomed to leaning on Russell, the star freshman, to bail it out.
On this night, much like the Buckeyes' blowout loss to Wisconsin, he could not rescue them.
Ohio State, which is expected to make the NCAA Tournament, will find out its postseason fate on Sunday.