Once again, Ohio State had a chance to snatch a massive road victory. And once again, Thad Matta's team couldn't get the job done.
After scoring 12 of 13 points to get within one point of Michigan State with just under 14 minutes remaining on Tuesday night at the Breslin Center, the Buckeyes never took the lead in the second half on their way to a 74-66 loss to the Spartans. The defeat drops Ohio State to 15-12 overall and 5-9 in conference play.
Marc Loving's 3-pointer got the Buckeyes within seven with 2 minutes and 30 seconds to play but a tip-dunk by Joshua Langford on the next possession served as the exclamation point for Michigan State.
Leading scorer Miles Bridges scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes, Alvin Ellis III led the Spartans with 18 off the bench, Nick Ward added 15 and Cassius Winston dished out nine assists for Tom Izzo's club. Bridges also corralled 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Loving led the Buckeyes with 22 points.
Michigan State led 40-34 at halftime. The Spartans scored six of the last eight points in the frame as Ohio State failed to connect on a field goal over the final 3:53. Returning to the lineup after missing Saturday's game at Maryland due to a family emergency, JaQuan Lyle tallied 10 points off the bench to pace the Buckeyes in the opening 20 minutes.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||MICHIGAN STATE|
|25–60 (42%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||25–52 (48%)|
|7–18 (39%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||10–25 (40%)|
|9–16 (56%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14–21 (66%)|
But Lyle did not score in the second half. He was only other Ohio State player outside of Loving in double figures.
Blistering hot shooting from Ellis III pushed Michigan State out front early. The senior entered the game after the first media timeout and proceeded to bury five consecutive 3-pointers — a career high — to put the Spartans ahead by nine.
The Buckeyes weathered the storm, however, and ripped off a 10-0 run for their first lead of the game 24-23 at the 7:22 mark. But Michigan State (16-10, 8-5) answered and took advantage of some Ohio State foul trouble to take the lead into intermission. Officials whistled Jae'Sean Tate and Andre Wesson for three fouls apiece while Loving and Trevor Thompson both had two in the first 20 minutes.
Tate managed just seven points in 23 minutes. Kam Williams also scored only five on a dismal 2-of-10 shooting performance despite playing 37 minutes.
With only four regular season games remaining, the loss means the Buckeyes will fail to reach double-digit conference victories for the first time since 2004-05 — the first season in Matta's tenure.
Ohio State hosts Nebraska on Saturday at 6 p.m.