Following an impressive road win in Madison on Tuesday, Michigan State (20-5, 11-3 B1G) will look to follow that performance up Sunday afternoon when Ohio State (16-8, 6-7 B1G) comes to town.
The 11th-ranked Spartans are coming off of an eight-point win over Wisconsin in which junior guard Cassius Winston led the way with a game-high 23 points. Through 25 games this season, the Detroit native leads the squad with 18.8 points per game and 7.4 assists per game. Winston’s scoring average is good for fourth in the league and his assists are fourth-best in the entire country.
MSU dished out 27 assists on 31 made baskets in the win over Wisconsin, which was its highest assist percentage (87.1) of the season. Entering Sunday’s matchup, ball movement will be key for the Spartans, considering the Buckeyes as a team only allow 64.7 points per outing.
In his second season on the sidelines in Columbus, Chris Holtmann’s group jumped out to a blazing 12-1 start to the season. However, the month of January was not kind to the Buckeyes, as they dropped five straight games and finished the month a meager 1-6.
OSU has gotten the wheels back on the track, however, as it’s won three of the last four games and is currently projected as the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
A big part of the Buckeyes’ better play has been because of their junior forward Andre Wesson scoring in double-figures in each of the last three games. In the teams’ first meeting back in early January, the MSU defense stymied Wesson to just 10 points on a modest 3-for-7 night.
It’s been Andre’s younger brother, Kaleb, who has shouldered much of the offensive load for the Buckeyes. A member of the All-Freshman Team a year ago, Wesson leads OSU in scoring at 14.9 points per game and put in a game-high 25 points the last time out against the Spartans.
Sunday’s game marks the 134th meeting between the teams, with MSU leading the head-to-head 74-59, including a 45-17 record at the Breslin Center, where it will play four of its last six regular season games.
A Michigan win over Maryland on Saturday helped it maintain a half game lead over MSU in the conference standings. But with two games still to play against the Wolverines, the Spartans can stay within an arm’s reach of their in-state rival in a tight league race with a win on Sunday.
Tipoff for Sunday’s contest is slated for 1 p.m., with Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery having the call on CBS.