Matt Charboneau talks about Michigan State's loss to Ohio State. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Columbus, Ohio – As it turns out, Michigan State’s run as the No. 1 team in the nation will be a brief one.
That much was clear after the Spartans faced their most significant road test of the season on Sunday and failed miserably in an 80-64 loss to Ohio State at Value City Arena.
The Spartans (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) had their 14-game winning streak ended as Ohio State used a 20-2 run that spanned the end of the first half and into the second to hand Michigan State its second straight loss in Columbus and keep the Buckeyes (13-4, 4-0) tied atop the Big Ten standings.
“I guess we’re a little disappointed. I don’t think we played very well but I give a lot of credit to Ohio State,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I just think for the first time we had to deal with — as (assistant coach) Dwayne Stephens said, ‘Welcome to being good.’ This is what is gonna happen every night. … We’ve got to handle things differently because you’re gonna get somebody else’s best shot. I think we got the crowd’s best shot, I think we got their team’s best shot and they deserved what they got and we deserved what we got.”
What they got was a dominating performance from an Ohio State team that has gone from surprise story to Big Ten contender.
The Buckeyes’ lead reached 25 in the second half, the largest deficit Michigan State has faced this season. Entering the game, the biggest deficit was 10 in the loss to Duke in the second game of the season. It was the only other double-digit deficit Michigan State has faced all season.
“We probably caught them on a rough night in terms of shooting the ball,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, “but I’m really happy for our guys.”
Tom Izzo breaks down Michigan State's 80-64 loss to Ohio State. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Michigan State could do little to contain Keita Bates-Diop, who scored a career-high 32 for the Buckeyes, shooting 12 for 21. He was one of four to score in double figures for Ohio State, which shot 52.5 percent (31-for-59), the best percentage by an MSU opponent this season. Michigan State entered the game holding teams to 33.1-percent shooting, the best in the nation.
C.J. Jackson added 14 points for the Buckeyes while Jae’Sean Tate scored 13 and Kam Williams chipped in 10.
Joshua Langford scored 17 for Michigan State, which could never find any offensive rhythm outside of the first few minutes. Miles Bridges scored 17 but was 7-for-19 from the field while Cassius Winston scored 12 and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 11 points, though he fouled out with nearly 10 minutes to play. The Spartans finished shooting 23-for-59 for 39.0 percent.
“I think this game our offense determined our defense,” Winston said. “We didn’t just buckle down and get stops and stops. We let a missed shot turn into a bucket for them and to win games on the road against quality teams we’re gonna have to bring that defense with us.”
Nick Ward, Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston talk about the Spartans loss to the Buckeyes. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Michigan State started quickly and opened an 11-4 lead, but things started going the wrong way quickly. The Spartans missed their next eight shots and went more than 5 minutes without a point as Ohio State went on an 11-0 run to take a 15-11 lead.
Michigan State responded by taking the lead, 20-18, after six straight points from Langford, but with the score tied at 29 and less than two minutes to play, things began to fall apart as Ohio State closed the half on a 12-0 run. It included a technical foul on Izzo and a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Ohio State’s Andrew Dakich.
“The problems started with me so there’s no blaming of the players,” Izzo said. “We didn’t shoot it as well but right before halftime when I didn’t agree with a couple of major calls … I’d do it again, but that was my fault so I’ll take the blame for it and I deserve the blame for it.”
Ohio State rode the momentum into the start of the second half and when it scored six points on one possession less than a minute in it had a 49-31 lead.
“It was a game of runs and spurts,” Bates-Diop said. “We went on a run in the first half and carried it into the second. Our game plan was to dig off the bigs and trap anybody in the post. We just executed our game plan.”
Even with the one-sided loss, however, the Spartans weren’t buying the idea the No. 1 ranking got to their heads.
“No, no, don’t go searching now,” Izzo said. “We’re 15-2 and we had great practices and there was no thinking we’re better than we are. There was none of that. We ran up against a team that played awfully well and the place was hopping.”
And now Michigan State looks to bounce back, likely without the top ranking next to its name.
“We weren’t thinking highly of ourselves or anything like that,” Winston said. “We knew it was gonna be a tough game, it was gonna be a tough team. Credit to them, they came out and they played. We didn’t do the things we needed to win.”