Ohio State shows little mercy, extends Michigan State misery in decisive win
Justice Sueing anticipated the backcourt pass from Joey Hauser. The Ohio State forward surged forward, nabbed the ball cleanly and had nothing but daylight between himself and the basket roughly 50 feet ahead of him.
As the Buckeyes bench area rose in anticipation, Sueing drove the lane, soared through the paint and, after intimating a massive dunk was in the making, calmly laid the ball in instead.
It was just about the only kindness the No. 13 Buckeyes showed to the Spartans on Sunday afternoon. In a battle of two teams headed in decidedly different directions, Ohio State (14-4, 8-4 Big Ten) won its third straight game and sixth in its last seven while handing Michigan State (8-6, 2-6) a third straight loss with a decisive, 79-62 victory at Value City Arena.
"I would just say (we have) a positive spirit," fifth-year senior guard CJ Walker said. "We’re all connected. We all understand what we need to do. We all know what our roles are on this team."
Ahead by 12 at the break, Ohio State endured a rough start to the second half but Michigan State couldn’t take advantage. It was a 15-point lead at the midpoint of the half when, with the shot clock about to expire, Duane Washington Jr. somehow snapped off a three-pointer with a hand in his face as the buzzer sounded.
True to form, it found only net, giving the Buckeyes their biggest lead to that point. For a Michigan State team that had scored only 37 points in last Thursday’s 30-point loss at Rutgers, its first game in 20 days due to a COVID-19 pause, it was too much.
For Ohio State, the win ended a handful of streaks at the hands of the Spartans. The Buckeyes had lost four straight in the series by an average of 11.3 points per game, had lost four straight games as a ranked team when playing the Spartans and had also lost four straight against a Michigan State team ranked lower in the Associated Press poll.
It is Ohio State's biggest win against the Spartans since a 90-72 win in Columbus on Feb. 9, 1987.
"Anytime you can get a win in the Ten, a win in general is going to feel good," Ohio State senior Kyle Young said. "You go out there and compete for 40 minutes. We haven’t gotten a win in a while against them."
After trading baskets early, Ohio State took a 9-7 lead when E.J. Liddell faked a jumper, drove and scored while being fouled by Marcus Bingham Jr. He hit the free throw with 16:40 left in the half, then added a turnaround jumper on the next possession, giving him eight of Ohio State’s first 11 points as it built a four-point lead.
The Buckeyes would steadily pull away from there during the first half, and it was a shared effort. Eight of the 11 Buckeyes to see first-half action scored, and each had between 4 and 9 points heading into the break as the lead would stretch as high as 14 points. That came when Justin Ahrens buried a three-pointer with 1:26 left, capping an 8-0 run and giving Ohio State a 42-28 lead that forced Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to call timeout.
Malik Hall hit two free throws with 38.5 seconds left to set the halftime score at 42-30. Five Michigan State players had been called for two fouls during the half.
Liddell led all scorers with 20 points.
Michigan State’s last game as an unranked team against Ohio State was a 74-66 Spartans win on Feb. 14, 2017 – the last time Thad Matta coached against Izzo.
The Spartans now have a pair of three-game losing streaks in Big Ten play for the first time since the 1987-88 season.