It’s Big Ten Tournament time for our Spartans. AJ “Boss Hogg” Hoggard, Tyson “Ty Fighter” Walker, Jaden “Shakin’ Bakin’” Akins, Malik “Malicious” Hall, Mady “The Mali Mauler” Sissoko (Yay, that was my suggestion!), Jaxon “Kohler Bear” Kohler, Pierre “Mel” Brooks”, Joey “Joey” Hauser and the rest of the MSU crew are taking on an Ohio State team who has played games in each of the last two days and, as was announced about an hour before game time, would be playing without their best player, Brice Sensabaugh. So, one would think this game would be in the Spartans’ advantage. Let’s see what happens.
Game Flow Analysis:
After a couple of empty possessions to begin the contest, Ty Fighter got things going for MSU with a long-range jumper. The Mali Mauler would give MSU the lead on their next possession as he displayed some patience in pumping and pivoting out of a double team down low before sinking a hook shot. Joey connected on a 3 as he found himself open after Boss Hogg got the OSU defense to collapse into the paint. And then Ty Fighter hit another jumper from almost the same spot as the first one he made. Ohio State got an early 5 points from Justice Sueing, and at the first commercial, MSU led 9-7.
Shortly after the break, Sueing hit a 2nd triple to take the lead. Joey put MSU back up a point at the free-throw line. Then a Bruce Thornton layup and a Sean McNeil 3 put OSU up 4. Mady got his second bucket to bring MSU to within 13-15 at the under-12.
Ohio State continued to get dispersed contributions to the box score, and after a few more baskets by the 13-seed including another triple, they led 17-22. It would have been a bigger lead had Tanner Holden not earned a technical for taunting the Spartan bench after he hit his three right in front of them, allowing Joey to get two the easy way.
Tre Hollomann recorded the only MSU points in the next segment, and at the 3:55 mark, Tom Izzo called a timeout with his team down 19-28.
Ohio State got their lead up to 11 before Ty Fighter hit a jumper with 2:17 left on the clock. This would be the last scoring either team had in the first half. They went to the intermission with MSU down 24-33.
The biggest story of the first 20 minutes was OSU going 5 for 9 on 3s while MSU shot 1 for 9. Boss Hogg was held scoreless thus far.
In the second half, MSU came out hot. Joey got it started with a fadeaway in the paint. Ty followed it up with a 3. Boss Hogg split a pair of FT. Shakin’ Bakin’ stepped in from the arc to hit a long 2. The Mali Mauler went way up to get a rejection on Bruce Thornton. When Boss Hogg hit a layup to bring MSU to within 2, OSU called a timeout. They would come up empty on two FG attempts on their possession out of the huddle, but on the other end, Kohler Bear missed a layup that would have tied the game. The Buckeyes came back down and Bruce Thornton connected from deep. On MSU’s next possession, Malicious got his layup effort blocked. Tyson Sueing would then hit on another Ohio State triple. And then Kohler Bear got whistled for the offensive foul on a moving screen. In the two minutes after MSU got the game as close as 2, OSU pushed it back out to 34-42.
The biggest highlight leading up to the under-12 was the six-second stretch between Boss Hogg’s missed drive and the ensuing Buckeyes break ending in a Thornton layup. Rather than getting it down to six, the lead was double-digits, 36-46.
It was a mostly silent stretch of game after that. A late triple by Roddy Gayle brought the score to 39-51, and Izzo called a timeout at 8:02. Hogg had been on the bench for a few minutes of game time at this point and the MSU offense looked even more abysmal in his absence than it had for most of the game. It was around this time that I began preparing myself for imminent defeat.
Apparently Izzo was telling Boss that he needs to take over the game when he got back out on the floor. Leading up to the under-4 timeout, no other Spartan attempted a FG, though Joey would hit 4 FTs. But MSU could get no closer than six, and at the last TV timeout, they trailed 50-58.
Michigan State had no fight left in them, and OSU extended the lead to as many as 14 before a couple late meaningless buckets made the final score 58-68.
I don’t really have anything profound to say or any deep revelations to share on this game. In my opinion, this is the worst performance from this team all season. In one afternoon, all that goodwill that this team was building with their offensive play the last two weeks of the season was eradicated. I don’t know if they just psyched themselves out, thinking that their opponent would be too fatigued and too short-handed to be competitive. Maybe Coach Izzo berated them and drilled them too much in practice the last few days after the poor defensive effort he felt his team gave in the last game, and that led to a worn-out or mentally anguished team today. Whatever it was, this team just gave every college basketball fan in the country a reason to pick MSU’s opponent in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They played uninspired. Offensive sets looked like they were being run at half speed. Defensive assignments were regularly blown, leading to wide open shots for the Buckeyes. Joey wasn’t looking for his shot or his teammates were not looking to get it to him. Malicious was undeserving of his nickname today. Maybe we should have voted to call Kohler Bear “The Faucet” instead as he was stuck in the off position today in his limited time on court. Boss Hogg was not acting like the boss until Coach gave him a late pep-talk, but by then it was too late. It wasn’t Bakin for Akins and Ty couldn’t fight his way away from defenders for most of the game. So now the question becomes, can MSU somehow revert to the team we saw down the stretch. If this version of OSU could make the Spartans look this bad - trailing for the final 33 minutes of the game and for a good portion of the 2nd half by double digits - then any decent team we face in the Dance should feel confident about their chances. I know when I fill out my bracket, I won’t have this team getting out of the opening weekend.
0 Things I Liked:
Yep, nothing to write here today. This was the worst I have seen this team play all year.
3 Things I Did Not Like:
1. Malik Hall - Malik is my main culprit today. 0 for 6 overall, 0 for 3 from deep. Airballs. Bad passes. Bad fouls. Bad defense. Just a bad day for the senior.
2. 3 for 16 from three-point land. Uh, what happened to our deep game? No one made more than 1 shot from beyond the arc.
3A. Hoggard was off today. Missing layups and FTs. Assists were low because his teammates couldn’t hit a shot.
3B. Speaking of free throws, a lot of misses today. Not a horrible percentage, but 5 misses, most of which were at crucial points. It could have been a closer game. Maybe.
Now we wait until Sunday evening to see where the committee puts us. Hopefully today’s performance doesn’t knock us down a rung. Most bracketologies had MSU as a 7-seed before today’s game. Moving down to the 8vs9 game would be a kick in the ____.