EAST LANSING, Mich. – Momentum from Ohio State's past month evidently stood no chance when faced with the magic of the Breslin Center on Cassius Winston's Senior Night.
|#19 OHIO STATE||32||37||69|
|#16 MICHIGAN STATE||38||42||80|
Despite falling behind by double figures early on Sunday, the Buckeyes avoided a worst-case scenario, going as far as to tie Michigan State twice within the first five minutes of the second half. Yet they couldn't take advantage when given a couple opportunities to take control, losing 80-69 to the Spartans in their only matchup of the season.
Ohio State ends a tumultuous regular season having won nine of the past 12 games. With Sunday's loss, it will enter the postseason with a 21-10 overall record and a 11-9 mark in the Big Ten. It'll play on Thursday in the second round of the conference tournament as either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed.
A pair of second-half fouls from CJ Walker helped doom Ohio State's chances of a comeback.
With the Buckeyes trailing by five points with 9:36 remaining, Rocket Watts drained a 3-pointer through Walker's contact and hit the following free throw. On the other end of the court, Walker committed his fourth foul – and second foul in a row – to send Watts back to the line, where he hit a pair of free throws.
Ohio State couldn't chop the lead to below eight points the remainder of the game, and the advantage stretched to 20 with 2:33 left to play.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||MICHIGAN STATE|
|24-53 (45.3%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||29-60 (48.3%)|
|5-16 (31.3%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||8-26 (30.8%)|
|16-19 (84.2%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14-18 (77.8%)|
In his final game at the Breslin Center, Winston held absolutely nothing back. The senior guard dropped a game-high 27 points, hitting 10-of-14 shots. He added six assists. Michigan State also got 19 points from Watts and 15 points from Xavier Tillman.
For the sixth consecutive game, Walker scored in double figures, reaching the mark before halftime. He had 14 points and one assist, leading his team with 10 first-half points.
Kaleb Wesson couldn't get much going offensively, scoring eight points and going 1-for-8 from the field. Ohio State shot 45.3 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Before a single break in action, Michigan State went on a 4-0 run followed by a 7-0 Ohio State run. Michigan State then began a 12-0 run that Rocket Watts capped off with a banked-in 3-pointer, forcing Chris Holtmann to call an early timeout with his team trailing, 16-7. Twice, the Spartans' lead reached double figures, and twice Ohio State cut into it to avoid an early disaster in East Lansing, going into halftime trailing by only six points before the Spartans ultimately won by double digits.
Next up: Ohio State has completed the regular season. It'll begin its run in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday as a No. 6 or 7 seed. That'll be determined by the result of the Illinois/Iowa game later on Sunday. If Iowa wins, the Buckeyes will be the No. 6 seed; if Illinois wins, the Buckeyes will be the seventh seed.
- Danny Hummer's stint in the starting five lasted one game. Chris Holtmann went back to his usual three-guard lineup of CJ Walker, Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr., Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson.
- Kyle Young (high ankle sprain) and Alonzo Gaffney (undisclosed) did not play on Sunday. Their availability moving forward remains uncertain.
- Former Ohio State walk-on Mark Titus was among those in attendance.
- Justin Ahrens' older brother, Kyle, played in his final home game as a Spartan on Sunday.
- This was the first regular season finale not to go to overtime in the Holtmann era.