CHICAGO — Before Friday’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal round between No. 6 Michigan State (26-6) and Ohio State, Foster Loyer was certainly not discussed as a potential game-changing storyline.
Having logged just 167 minutes all season before Friday's matchup, Loyer’s career-high 14 points and four 3-pointers gave MSU the spark it desperately needed, surging past Ohio State 77-70 and advancing to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal for a second-straight season.
Loyer was crucial in sparking a surge that the MSU offense desperately needed, with its Big Ten Player of the Year guard Cassius Winston on the bench, receiving an earful from Tom Izzo for careless play for much of the first half and spurts of the second.
Winston picked up his play in the second half, logging just 22 minutes, but leading the Spartans with a game-high 16 points on a 4-of-7 day from the floor. His backcourt mate Aaron Henry pitched in eight points as well as senior guard Matt McQuaid adding 12, with six of those coming from the charity stripe.
Junior forward Nick Ward returned to the lineup for the first time since mid-February, and he looked impressive in his first time back. Ward finished with eight points on an efficient 3-of-4 day and did a stout job defensively banging down low with Ohio State’s big man Kaleb Wesson.
With the win, the top-seeded Spartans advance to their second-straight Big Ten Tournament semifinal. They’ll await the winner of Nebraska and Wisconsin, two teams they swept during the regular season.