Buckeyes home win streak snapped at the hands of the Spartans
The matchup of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans was expected by many to be the most physical of the season. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the game lived up to its billing.
The Spartans held the Buckeyes to only 48 points, and handed the team a 58-48 loss, their fourth of the season.
Containing sophomore Jared Sullinger is the goal of most teams against Ohio State, but Michigan State was able to force ten turnovers from Sullinger, nearly nullifying his 17 points and 15 rebounds.
“It was physical inside both ways,” Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo said. “We game planned around him. We didn’t feel that we could double him, there are too many guys who can make shots.”
Sullinger often looked frustrated, whether it was because of the game’s physicality, his own turnovers, or the frequent non-calls from the officials. He says, however, that it wasn’t anything he can’t handle.
“I was just trying to let [the officials] know certain things that were happening to me,” Sullinger said. “There were a lot of things that weren’t called, but that’s every night in the Big Ten I guess. It is what it is.”
With the victory, the Spartans tied the Buckeyes atop the Big Ten standings, and the two teams’ looming season finale rematch in East Lansing looks like an even more pivotal matchup.
For the Buckeyes, the loss not only snaps a six game winning streak, but a 39 game home unbeaten run that was the second-longest active streak in the nation.
The game’s defining factor was Ohio State’s inability to put the ball into the basket. Shooting a dismal __ percent from the field, the Buckeyes were uncharacteristically cold from outside the paint, and were unable to find a consistent outside threat.
“We weren’t playing our basketball,” Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta said. “We weren’t executing at the level we needed to execute. Some of that was probably that shots weren’t falling for us. We weren’t good enough at the execution and it kind of compounded itself the more shots we missed.”
Contributing to this was the game of the team’s lone senior William Buford, who was pivotal in the Buckeyes victories over Wisconsin and Purdue. Buford managed only four points in the loss, and a disappointing 16 percent from the field.
“I recruited Buford. Love him,” Izzo said. “He’s a great kid and a great player, but he had not a very good game.
And Thomas didn’t have a very good game, so then everything falls on poor Sullinger.”
Few of the Buckeyes were proficient from the field, and their inability to shoot the ball was clearly their undoing.
“The ball went in for [Michigan State],” Matta said. “We couldn’t get that momentum. It was just one of those days you hate to have as a coach and a player.”
The bright spot for the Ohio State team was, as usual, their ferocious defense. The Buckeyes forced 16 turnovers, and held the Spartans to only 21 field goals. Aaron Craft even caught the eye of one of the most respected coaches in college basketball.
“Aaron Craft is the best pressure guard in the country,” Izzo said. “The guy is the best on the ball defender that I’ve ever seen.”
The Buckeyes are still tied at the top of the Big Ten, but the team knows that they need to improve if they plan to stay there.
“We’ve got to refocus. We’re still at the top of the league, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Craft said.