Imagine, if you will, what today was like as a member of the Ohio State University basketball team.
You’re on the bubble, on the road, and playing one of the top teams in the country on its Senior Day.
You come out and compete, shoot above 50 percent in the first half, find ways to keep it close. You’re not playing poorly and you’re during few things wrong.
It’s still not good enough.
That’s the predicament the Buckeyes found themselves in on Saturday. Michigan State was a team on a mission and beat a team who played fairly well by 15 points. No team in the country was going to compete with the Spartans on this day.
MSU finished the first half shooting nearly 70 percent and finished the day with a 66.7 clip from the field. The team was unstoppable.
If emotions got the best of the seniors, you couldn’t tell. Denzel Valentine was at the top of his game, putting in 27 points, hitting five 3-pointers, dishing out 13 assists while going 9-of-13 from the field. It’s tough to argue against this guy being the best player in America – at least right now.
Matt Costello may have been the one to wear the most emotion on his sleeves, but he kept it together with his 15 point, 11 rebound performance. Bryn Forbes (14 points) didn’t have his best game, but he didn’t need to. Everyone else balanced it out.
The biggest takeaway from this game was that MSU did what it was supposed to do – what it needed to do – down the stretch of the regular season. It took care of business. Since the three-game losing streak, MSU didn’t have a game closer than nine points – save for the Purdue loss. The Spartans have blown the doors off of every team since that game.
This team didn’t have any more lapses and played its best basketball of the season down the stretch. Michigan State certainly had some hiccups in the first half of some of those games, but it was nothing that wasn’t adjusted.
Saturday’s game was just a formality and another chance to get better.