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Ohio State Tops Michigan State 72-67

It’s hard to call a mid-January game, the fifth of the Big Ten conference slate, a ‘must win’ game but that is exactly what today’s game against the Michigan State Spartans was for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Thad Matta’s team came into the game winless in their first four conference games, winless in their last five against Tom Izzo and the Spartans, and on the heels of a demoralizing loss at Wisconsin on Thursday, desperate for a win.

And a win is exactly what Ohio State got before over 17,000 fans Sunday afternoon, besting the Michigan State Spartans 72-67.

Michigan State came out of the gates on fire, making their first six shots of the game with assists on all six field goals to take a 15-10 lead with just under five minutes gone in the game.

The Ohio State defense would make the proper adjustments, not allowing a made field goal on the next five Spartans attempts, as the Buckeyes would go on a 9-0 run to take a 16-15 lead.

JaQuan Lyle and Marc Loving would lead the Buckeyes throughout the first half as the Ohio State lead swelled to 27-20 before both teams hit a three-minute plus offensive drought.

The Buckeyes and Spartans would trade baskets for the last ninety seconds of the first half before Josh Langford and Michigan State halting some of the Ohio State momentum with a three-point shot made as time expired and Ohio State went into the locker room 38-33.

In the opening five minutes of the second half Michigan State would battle back to erase the Ohio State half time lead and take a 48-46 lead of their own with 14:45 to play. Over the next seven minutes of play neither team would establish dominance in the game on either end, with neither the Buckeyes nor Spartans having a two possession lead.

With the score tied at 56 all coming out of the under eight minute media timeout, Gahanna Lincoln graduate Nick Ward would hit a pull up jumper and give Michigan State the 58-56 lead with 7:31 to play.

However, that lead would be the Spartans last of the game. Ohio State would score on their next four possessions, buoyed by a strong defense, going on a 10-0 run to take a 66-58 lead with 5:33 remaining.

The Buckeyes would not look back after that run, with the Spartans never able to get within one possession of tying the game, as Ohio State held on 72-67 for their first Big Ten win of the season.

All five Ohio State starters scored in double digits, led by JaQuan Lyle with 22 points and 6 assists. Freshman Miles Bridges was the lone Spartan to score in double digits, notching 24 points and 9 rebounds.

“I just told the players, ‘Look, just keep playing,’” Matta said after the Ohio State win. “We got dealt a blow here a couple of weeks ago losing Keita [Bates-Diop]. We’ve had a tough go. Maybe there’s a couple of teams that wouldn’t be 0–4 going into today’s game, but there’s probably some that would be. As I told our guys the other day, I was 10–9 at Xavier and four weeks later we were playing in the Elite Eight to go to the Final Four.”

“Just keep fighting, man. Just keep fighting.”

Ohio State will next travel to Nebraska on Wednesday before returning to Columbus on Sunday to face Northwestern.

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