EAST LANSING, Mich. — As he’s done so many times in his career, C.J. Jackson’s three-pointer silenced a hostile crowd and gave Ohio State life. With 7:40 remaining on No. 11 Michigan State’s home court, Jackson found only net from the left wing to tie it at 42 and answer a Kenny Goins go-ahead three-pointer.
Instead of proving to be the start of a surge, the jumper proved to be the Buckeyes' high-water mark. They would score only two more points the rest of the way, stacking a brutal second half on top of a standout first half, and turn a five-point halftime lead into a 62-44 loss to the Spartans.
Ohio State (16-9, 6-8 Big Ten) did not make a field goal in the final 7:40 of the game. For the half, it went 4 for 21 (19.0 percent) from the field, scoring only 13 points. After committing only four first-half turnovers, the Buckeyes had 11 during the second half.
Michigan State (21-5, 12-3) closed with a 20-2 run while the Buckeyes missed 10 of their final 11 shots.
“I thought they made it very difficult to score for us throughout the game, but particularly in the second half with their defense and their physicality,” coach Chris Holtmann said.
It came in drastic contrast to the first half, when the Buckeyes had eight players make at least one field goal and closed with a 7-0 run to become the first visiting team to lead at the half at the Breslin Center this season. When the Spartans came out for the second half, Nick Ward sported a protective wrap on his left, dominant hand, and the Gahanna product was able to play for only 3:30 in the second half.
When post player Xavier Tillman picked up his fourth foul with 11:40 to play, the Spartans turned to seldom-used backup Thomas Kithier to contend with Kaleb Wesson. The freshman had averaged 4.9 minutes in nine Big Ten appearances, but Wesson would manage one missed shot, two turnovers and one free throw after Tillman’s fourth foul.
“He was just active,” Wesson said of Kithier. “He was going on top of me and making the guards throw it over the top.”
Both Holtmann and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said they felt Wesson seemed tired by the end of the game, with Izzo saying part of the Spartans' game plan was to tire out Ohio State’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Further limiting the offense, Jackson rolled his ankle four minutes into the second half and was hobbled for the remainder of the game.
Michigan State won going away despite Ward being limited to nine points in 19 minutes and Cassius Winston going 3 for 15 from the field.
Ohio State has now lost six straight games at the Breslin Center and has never knocked off a ranked Michigan State team in this building when the Buckeyes were unranked, but for the first 20-plus minutes it seemed a real possibility.
“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth because we knew this was a winnable game,” sophomore Musa Jallow said. “We just didn’t do enough to pull it out in the second half.”