On Sunday afternoon, the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes, collided in Columbus, Ohio for a Big Ten battle. While the Spartans entered the matchup sitting on top of the conference, the Buckeyes were in pursuit of their first Big Ten win.
Michigan State (12-6, Big Ten 4-1) came out scorching hot in the first, connecting on their first six shot attempts. However, the Spartan’s early success was short lived, as the Buckeyes began to form a sudden comeback. After kicking off the first half down 15-7, Ohio State (10-7, Big Ten 0-4) captured the lead heading into the half, 33-36.
The second period revealed a back-and-fourth battle between the two teams, as the lead switched hands six times. Despite a valiant effort from both sides, it was Ohio State who walked away with their first conference victory this season, 72-67.
Let’s see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Michigan State’s Guards Must Step Up.
In the world of men’s college basketball, guard play is key. Even with Miles Bridges and Nick Ward’s contributions in the paint, the two can’t carry an entire team. Freshman guard Josh Langford, shot 3-of-8 from the field in the loss, while Lourawls Nairn Jr. and Eron Harris, were able to combine for just 10 points. Despite his 24-point, nine-rebound showing, Bridges was the only Spartan to score 10-or-more points.
Although the Spartans hold an intimidating presence down low, Langford and Harris, must rise to the occasion. If Michigan State can spread the floor, scoring opportunities will open on the perimeter and down low. This team holds a surplus of talent, that is capable of taking over games. In order to be a top team in the Big Ten, Michigan State’s young stars must execute.
2. Ohio State Has Improved.
After failing to pick up a conference win in their first four tries this season, Ohio State showed some promise down the stretch. The Buckeyes exhibited tremendous chemistry on the hardwood, as five players notched double figures on the afternoon. Sophomore guard Jaquan Lyle, led the way with his 22-point, six-rebound performance, while Jae’Sean Tate and Marc Loving, each contributed 12 points in the win. Throughout the entire match, whether he was on the perimeter, or in the paint, the Buckeye’s ability to find the open man was unmatched.
Ohio State’s unselfishness on the floor was one of the many forces behind their big-time win. Even though this may be the team’s first conference victory, they do have potential. Ohio State fell to Purdue — a top team in the conference this year — by just one point, earlier this season. However, that loss and this win, both took place in front of a home crowd. Ohio State must learn how to bring the same winning mentality on the road, if they expect to compete with the Big Ten’s elite.
3. Trevor Thompson Is A Big Man To Watch.
Redshirt-junior Trevor Thompson, not only played a huge role in Ohio State’s win, but has looked to establish himself as a premier big man in the conference. Thompson added 10 points and eight rebounds on the afternoon, coming up just short of a double-double. The 7-foot behemoth, also added two monster blocks in the win. This season, Thompson is a top-three rebounder in the conference, averaging 9.1 rebounds-per-game in seventeen matches.
In this matchup, Thompson went head-to-head with some of the best big men the Big Ten has to offer. At the end of the day, it was Thompson and his teammates, that walked away with a win. Expect Thompson to build off of this momentum, and continue to create problems for opponents on the boards.
Ohio State will face off against Nebraska, a team who has pulled off their own fair share of upsets this season, while Michigan State hopes to find their footing against Indiana. Michigan State will need their guards to perform in future matches, and Ohio State must continue to build off their team play.