With Gus Johnson and Ohio State legend Jimmy Jackson on the call, here’s what the Fox broadcast showed us upon re-watching.
* This game did not get off to a pretty start. Ohio State in particular had ugly three-point misses from Keyshawn Woods from straight-on and Andre Wesson, who drew only backboard. Wesson came up limping a little bit, too, when he landed. That brought Kyle Young into the game, and he scored the first points on a lob off a backdoor cut. This would happen multiple times throughout the game.
* Jackson had an early comment that the Buckeyes haven’t been necessarily efficient in their half-court offense and said transition would be important for them. After Michigan State misses, you can clearly hear coach Chris Holtmann yelling at his guys to get up the court as fast as possible. The Buckeyes definitely wanted to run as much as possible in this game.
* Jackson, on Holtmann: “He understands the mentality of the group that he has.” He added that Holtmann’s communication skills with his players helps a team perform at a higher level and its skills would suggest possible.
* Cassius Winston didn’t do a lot of his scoring until the second half, but he shook free of Luther Muhammad twice in the first seven minutes to hit open jumpers.
* Young found himself backed down in the post defensively a few times in the first few minutes. Matt McQuaid spun around Duane Washington Jr. for a floater in the paint. Several guys didn’t have their best defensive performances.
* C.J. Jackson’s second three-pointer came after Young had a drive to the basket and what appeared to be an open look at the rim only to kick it back out to a waiting Jackson. Then on the next possession Young scored again on a backdoor cut to tie the game. “When they operate with purpose and quickness and really decisive … they’re able to score against this Michigan State team,” Jimmy Jackson said.
* Holtmann, in the next timeout: “We have to hit harder down here. Go and get them right now. We’re not hitting hard enough on the glass. Then we’ll get out and run. Hit harder!”
* Some nice give-and-go as the Buckeyes pushed their attack ended with Andre Wesson throwing a behind-the-back bounce pass to Woods, who then promptly blew the layup without even hitting the rim. Strange play.
* Young repaid the favor to Jackson, finding him on a backdoor cut.
* Jimmy Jackson critiqued Young’s defense for not pressuring a pass from the top of the circle from Kenny Goins, who found Ward for an easy basket. He played Goins a lot tighter on the next possession.
* Tough go for Jaedon LeDee, whose only playing time came late in the first half. He was quickly called for a foul while tangled up with Ward, who hit both free throws. Then he committed a foul on an offensive rebounds and came out of the game.
* Washington also scored on that backdoor cut.
* The Buckeyes brought some double teams at Ward, usually with the Wesson brothers. On one possession, Andre forced Ward to kick the ball back up top, and then a quick pass sent the ball to the left block where Andre’s man was waiting. He recovered, closed out and forced a contested miss in the paint. Good defensive awareness on that play. Then he drew a Michigan State foul with a strong block-out on a Spartans miss.
* Musa Jallow had a three-pointer that did every single thing but go down. He also kept a possession alive by tipping a rebound that Kaleb Wesson finished with a three-point play.
* That led into “The Play.” A poor pass upcourt was first deflected by Kaleb Wesson, who fell into the first row of the courtside seats in the process. He tipped it to Jackson, who was also falling out of bounds and could only toss it upcourt, where Andre Wesson likewise toed the line and passed it back toward halfcourt while in midair to Jackson, who then drove to the elbow, stopped, and fed Andre Wesson back at the three-point line. He gave a head-fake, drove and dropped a bounce pass to Washington in the right corner, who buried it. This was the highlight of the season to this point.
* Kaleb Wesson hit hook shots over Ward with both his right and left hands during the first half.
* According to the broadcast, Ohio State had 14 pass deflections in the final 11 minutes of the half after recording zero in the first nine minutes.
* What a start to the second half for the Buckeyes. They forced the Spartans into a poor shot at the end of the shot clock, then Kaleb Wesson drew two fouls and hit two free throws to push the lead to a game-high nine points. It wouldn’t get better than that, and Ward started to stem the momentum by sealing Wesson and getting him called for a foul. Then Wesson fouled him on a shot attempt seconds later.
* With the lead at six and 17:17 to play, Kaleb Wesson came out for a break and Jackson went to the bench for the first time with the cramping problem that would frustrate him for the remainder of the game.
* Michigan State really pushed the ball up the court after an Ohio State make. It helped the Spartans stem momentum on several occasions.
* Winston was on another level during the first few minutes of the second half. Ohio State couldn’t find a defender to stay in front of him.
* Lucky that nobody was hurt during the collision between Ward and Woods on a Michigan State fast break. Scary-looking play, especially live. Credit to Ward, who had struggled at Ohio State during his first two appearances, for shaking this off and continuing to play at a high level.
* Winston and Xavier Tillman executed a perfect pick-and-roll lob play with Muhammad and Kaleb Wesson guarding them. Those two usually don’t allow a play like that.
* Kaleb Wesson gave a pump-fake from the three-point line, put the ball on the floor and drove the basket to draw a foul. Another sign of how far his game has come this year. He also had 21 points with 12:40 to go and would score only four more the rest of the way. His final points came with 11:13 to go.
* Kyle Ahrens had a huge dunk to give Michigan State the 60-59 lead. The defense was stretched, and Jallow overplayed a pass-fake to give the Ohio native a straight line to the basket.
* Jackson switched onto Ahrens, leaving Washington to guard Winston. He fouled him on a three-pointer with 9:28 left, and Holtmann pulled Jackson at that point as the cramping was clearly crippling him. When Muhammad replaced Jackson, it meant the two freshmen were the only true guards on the court for the Buckeyes.
* Kaleb Wesson’s fourth foul came in an unfortunate place. Jallow had a jumper blocked by Ward, and he went after the ball at the free-throw line and found himself in no-man’s land. Not an advisable jumper by Jallow, either.
* Ohio State forced a jump ball with one second left on the shot clock and Michigan State with the ball under the basket and unable to do anything. Could’ve been a foul, could’ve been a travel. Pretty much worst-case scenario there, though. One more second and it’s a shot-clock violation anyway.
* Tied at 64, Woods took a deep, contested jumper early in the shot clock that hit the front of the rim and gave the Spartans a fast-break opportunity. Poor shot selection there, and it ultimately led to Muhammad’s fourth foul.
* Goodness, I forgot about Young’s trailing dunk off a missed Washington three-pointer that tied the game at 66. It felt like a huge moment, until Winston fed Ward on the block for a three-point play.
* With four fouls and the game tied, Kaleb Wesson took a charge on Aaron Henry. Gutsy play.
* Washington forced a shot with four minutes to go and trailing by one point. It was altered and/or blocked, and it found only air. Michigan State scored at the other end. Big momentum swing there.
* Under Holtmann, Ohio State has been pretty good at executing out of timeouts. With 3:20 to go and down three, Woods threw a soft lob pass to Kaleb Wesson that was deflected out of bounds. When play resumed, Kaleb Wesson and Ward had some significant contact on the block that wasn’t called.
* Ahrens had an offensive rebound and put-back with 2:37 left to make it a five-point Ohio State deficit, and it was Jackson who didn’t block out and left him a wide-open lane to the rim.
* Still trailing by five, Woods with a tough turnover late when he just lost the handle. And seconds later, Washington airballed a quick three-pointer.
* The final nail was a turnover on the inbounds play. Down six, Washington was inbounding the ball and, as he was running out of time, he threw it upcourt, where it was intercepted.