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Men’s Basketball: Spartans Crack Buckeyes 80-69, Game Recap

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Senior day and a third straight conference title on the line makes for a perfect spring day. It’s even better when the Spartans get the W for Izzo’s second three-peat.

Ohio State v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

No. 19 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 16 Michigan State Spartans

An emotional day for us all as once again we reached the end of the season and said goodbye to yet another outstanding group of seniors as they suited up for the final time at home in the beloved green and white. The starting five today:

For one senior in particular, his final game had family in attendance but not exactly rooting for his team:

And of course, we said goodbye to the all-time assists leader today as well:

First Half

On an emotional Sunday afternoon, it was the perfect start for Michigan State in that Cassius scored first blood with his signature floater. From there it was a slow start to scoring for both teams as MSU built-out a four point lead before Ohio State quickly responded to take the lead seven to four. Just like that it was a Spartan run again as they went on a 12-0 run until the Buckeyes called a timeout following a banked three from well behind the line by Rocket Watts with 14:31 to go.

The Spartans continued to build out their lead coming out of the timeout. Ohio State scored first on one of two free throws for EJ Liddell and again on a jumper by Liddell, but MSU responded with a jumper by Xavier Tillman and then Cassius Winston drained all three free throw attempts to make it 21-10. Foster Loyer came in after Winston’s free throws and the scored remained unchanged through the next TV timeout with 11:58 to go.

Coming out of the timeout, the Spartans shooting woes continued as Ohio State went on a five point run to come within six of the Spartans before Rocket Watts hit yet another banked three, this one from the corner. The scoring was back and forth again through a Winston three with 8:58 left in the half before both teams went into another scoring drought through to the next official media timeout with 6:32 left in the half with the score at 29-19. Cash and Rocket accounted for 21 for the Spartans at this point, and compare that with the 19 as a team for Ohio State.

Coming out of the timeout it was still yet more struggling on both ends to score. Tillman managed three points for the Spartans, with a jumper giving MSU their largest lead of the game, 31-19, and he later went one-for-two at the free throw line. Meanwhile the Buckeyes managed a Kaleb Wesson jumper and a Duane Washington Jr. three to make the score 32-26 heading into the final media timeout of the half with 3:27 left.

From there it was six points apiece for both teams to close out the first half, with Michigan State keeping the lead at 38-32. Both teams managed 44 percent shooting from the field, with MSU shooting 25 percent from three and 80 percent from the free throw line. The Spartans also had the big advantage at the boards 21-15.

Second Half

Coming out of the locker room, it was all Ohio State to start as they went on a ten-four run to tie it up at 42 with 16:14 to go. Aaron Henry sunk a jumper in response and gave the Spartans the lead, but K. Wesson answered right back with two free throws to keep it tied at 44. From there it was Winston taking over to give MSU some breathing room at 49-44.

Ohio State refused to go away, continuing to make runs and keep it to single digits until an Aaron Henry layup with 6:12 to go stretched the Spartans lead to 68-56. From there MSU never looked back. Final score 80-69 for the Spartans. Winston led the Spartans in scoring with 27 points and added six assists. Rocket had 19 points. Tillman came up just shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds.

As for our seniors?

The team sent them out the right way with a third straight conference title to hang in the rafters, and the second time Coach Izzo has managed a three-peat. Next up will be Friday’s opponent in Indianapolis.

Go Green, and that’s another Victory for MSU!