Nick Ward's alright; Foster Loyer's alright; the Spartans just hit another gear.
After surrendering eight unanswered points early in the second half, Michigan State turned up the heat on Ohio State with swift ball movement, fast-break points and lockdown defense as the Spartans advanced to the B10 semi-final with a 77-70 win at the United Center in Chicago on Friday.
Ward scored scored eight points in his return, Cassius Winston put up 18 and seven rebounds, and Loyer, who had hit just one triple in B10 play this season, was 4-for-5 from 3 and finished with 14 points.
Ohio State star Kaleb Wesson fell into foul trouble early and never really could climb out of the hole, fouling out with just under 10 minutes to play in the game. Keyshawn Woods scored 16 and Andre Wesson 14 for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State makes it close at the end
A pair of field goals and a free throw by the Buckeyes make it a 15-point game as time swings below two minutes remaining. Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammad hit a pair of 3-point shots to pull within 7 with 18 seconds left. Then Duane Washington makes it a 5-point game with eight seconds left.
Cassius Winston hits a pair of free throws to give the Spartans some breathing room.
Michigan State 77, Ohio State 70 (FINAL)
Spartans extend lead to 20 as Loyer, Ward continue to get work
Matt McQuaid is pulled from the game after fouling Keyshawn Woods, who makes both ends of a one-and-one. Cassius Winston makes a pair of free throws on the other end.
C.J. Jackson hits a jumper to make it a 12-point game; Nick Ward returns the favor with a bucket and then hits a free throw on the next possession.
Foster Loyer is back in for Michigan State, and immediately makes his presence. He catches a give-and-go from Aaron Henry before returning it to his fellow freshman for a difficult layup.
After another stop, all five Spartans on the floor get a touch on a rotation that ends with a Kenny Goins triple that gives Michigan State a 20-point lead.
Another stop on the other end for Michigan State. Loyer facilitates it inside to Xavier Tillman, who reaches the basket from a baseline position and slams it home.
Ohio State's scoring drought ends at 3:24 a mid-range jumper by Woods.
Michigan State 75, Ohio State 55 (3:52 2nd)
Ohio State's Wesson fouls out, MSU pulls away
Cassius Winston makes a nice play to get Aaron Henry an easy bucket at the rim, and Ohio State will take a timeout to regroup as the Spartans now lead by 10.
After the timeout, Kaleb Wesson returns for the Buckeyes. Seconds later, he picks up his fifth foul and will be forced out of the game. On offense for Michigan State, Xavier Tillman is fouled. He makes one of two.
Musa Jallow hits a deep 3 to pull the Buckeyes within 8, but Winston drills an and-1 three on the other end to make it 61-49. Aaron Henry then throws it down on a fast-break alley-oop after the Spartans pull down a rebound to make it a 14-point game.
Michigan State 63, Ohio State 49 (7:49 2nd)
Michigan State takes biggest lead of game; OSU's Kaleb Wesson commits fourth foul
You'll never guess who hits a jumper to open up the scoring after the media timeout: Foster Loyer. Though, this time it's only a 2. Michigan State up 7.
Keyshawn Woods comes back the other way and hits a jumper of his own to make it 47-42.
Matt McQuaid dances his way from the perimeter into a wide-open paint, laying it in. On defense, McQuaid picks up his third foul and will check out.
Xavier Tillman grabs a pair of offensive rebound and dishes out to Loyer, who misses his first 3-point shot of the game to a audible disappointment from the crowd. He returns to the bench to a standing ovation from the Spartan crowd.
Kyle Young hits a layup for Ohio State to draw within 5, but bad news meets the Buckeyes on the other end, as Kaleb Wesson fouls Cassius Winston for his fourth personal foul of the game. That'll bring him out for quite some time. Winston makes both free throws. It's 51-44.
Andrew Wesson backs his way into the paint and makes a nice spin move to lay in a bucket form up close. Kyle Ahrens misses a 3-pointer on the other end, but Winston grabs the offensive board and kicks it to Kenny Goins, who converts from deep to give Michigan State its biggest lead of the game.
Michigan State 54, Ohio State 46 (11:06 2nd)
Wesson's flagrant flips Ohio State's early second-half momentum
Michigan State's Kenny Goins and Ohio State's Keyshawn Jackson each miss a 3-pointer to open the second half. Kaleb Wesson lays in a basket for the Buckeyes' first points of the second half, making it 36-32.
Spartan freshman Aaron Henry hits his first bucket in 11 minutes of action, a deep 2-pointer. Andre Wesson dishes it inside to Musa Jallow for a slam dunk.
Andre Wesson hits a 3-pointer on the Buckeyes' next possession to make it 38-37, and Kaleb Wesson drills a 3-pointer of his own to give Ohio State a 40-38 lead.
Matt McQuaid hits a pair of free throws to tie things up at 40-40 and stop a 8-0 Ohio State run. On defense, McQuaid is hit in the back of the head by a flying elbow from Kaleb Wesson. Officials will review the play, as they did with Ward's elbow in the first half. Somehow, McQuaid was also given a personal foul on the play.
Kaleb Wesson is assessed a Flagrant 1. That's his third personal foul.
McQuaid makes the ensuing free throws to give Michigan State a 42-40 lead.
Foster Loyer checks into the game for Michigan State. His first shot is from 3-point land. His first shot goes in. Spartans back up by 5.
Michigan State 45, Ohio State 40 (15:56 2nd)
First half leaders
MSU - Foster Loyer: 9 pts.
OSU - Keyshawn Woods: 10 pts.
MSU - Cassius Winston: 3 rebs.
OSU - Andre Wesson: 3 rebs.
MSU - Kenny Goins: 4 asts.
OSU - Kyle Young: 3 asts.
Winston heats up before halftime
Cassius Winston is fouled and hits a pair of free throws; on the other end, Kyle Young is followed and also makes both free throws.
Kithier makes a layup, and after a defensive stop by Michigan State, Winston rolls in a layup to give the Spartans a 32-27 lead.
Duane Washington Jr. nails a 3-pointer for Ohio State, but Winston calls 'heating up' with a silky jumper of his own on the next possession to make it 34-30.
Timeout, Michigan State (0:33 1st)
Winston returns from the timeout with another long 2-pointer for the Spartans, and that'll be the last score before half.
Michigan State 36, Ohio State 30 (End 1st)
Loyer coming alive for Michigan State
On the Spartans' first possession after the break, Nick Ward draws a foul and will go to the line. He sinks one-of-two and now has a team-high five points.
Ohio State misses a 3-pointer on the other end; Matt McQuaid goes to the hole, draws a shooting foul on the ensuing Michigan State possession. He makes both to give the Spartans a 20-17 lead.
Andre Wesson takes — and makes — his first shot of the game for Ohio State, drilling a 3-pointer to tie things up at 20-20. Foster Loyer returns the favor for Michigan State with his second 3-pointer of the game.
Officials are reviewing a potential flagrant foul on Ward, who elbowed Wesson in the paint before starting the ball cycle that was eventually completed by Loyer's 3. It didn't look intentional, but Ward is assessed a Flagrant 1. Loyer's basket still counts and Ward will return to the bench while Keyshawn Woods makes both free throws. It's 23-22, Michigan State, and Ohio State will keep possession.
Wesson hits his second 3-pointer of the game to regain the Buckeye lead. Loyer hits another 3, this one from a different area code, at the other end to put the Spartans back up 1 before drawing a charge on defense.
Michigan State 26, Ohio State 25 (3:39 1st)
Strong offensive effort keeping Buckeyes on par with Michigan State
Nick Ward bullies the Buckeyes in the paint and lays in a basket to give the Spartans a lead. Ward shows he hasn't missed a step by knocking a pass out-of-bounds at the other end.
C.J. Jackson ties things up at 17-17 with a layup. On the Buckeyes' next possession, Ward stuffs Kaleb Wesson from behind before things head the other way and Cassius Winston draws a pair of fouls on the other end.
Michigan State 17, Ohio State 17 (7:17 1st)
Ward makes return for Spartans
Nick Ward steps on the court for Michigan State for the first time since Feb. 17 and immediately makes his presence felt. He nails a long jumper to give Michigan State a 6-5 lead.
Keyshawn Woods hits a shot to put the Buckeyes on top, Michigan State turns it over, and Woods hits a 3 in transition to make it 10-6, Ohio State.
With the shot clock running low, the Spartans frantically throw the ball around before Kenny Goins gets up a deep 2-pointer that falls. Kaleb Wesson fouls on the other end, his second personal, forcing him out of the game.
Luther Muhammad picks up the slack on offense, getting to the hoop for a bucket and a foul, making it 12-8. The Buckeyes are then called for a lane violation, voiding Ohio State's opportunity at a free throw.
Freshman Foster Loyer hits his first bucket of the game, a 3-point shot that brings the Spartans within a point.
C.J. Jackson drills a 3-pointer a few possessions later to regain the 4-point Buckeye lead; Matt McQuaid hits a jumper and then feeds Xavier Tillman on the Spartans' next possession, who throws down a dunk to tie things up before the next break.
Michigan State 15, Ohio State 15 (9:41 1st)
Low-scoring affair favors Ohio State early
Nick Ward is in the lineup for Michigan State, but will not start for the Spartans.
Ohio State wins the tip. C.J. Jackson misses a three on one end; Cassius Winston misses a floater on the other.
Both teams trade turnovers on the possessions that follow before Kaleb Wesson puts Ohio State up, 2-0, with a bucket inside. Xavier Tillman answers in the paint for Michigan State, making it 2-2.
Keyshawn Woods puts the Buckeyes back on top with a 3-point shot that rattles home. Kenny Goins misses a 3-pointer on the other end.
Matt McQuaid drills a mid-range jumper that cuts Ohio State's lead to 5-4.
Ohio State 5, Michigan State 4 (15:45 1st)
A third victory over Ohio State can start Michigan State's march for a second Big Ten title.
The Spartans and Buckeyes will square off at 12:30 p.m. Friday in a quarterfinal of the Big Ten tournament at United Center in Chicago. Michigan State (25-6), the Big Ten regular-season co-champion, is the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Ohio State (19-13), which reached the quarterfinal with a 79-75 victory Thursday over Indiana, is the No. 8 seed.
The Spartans played the second half of that second game without second-leading scorer Nick Ward, who broke his hand in the first half. He missed the rest of the regular season, but he's expected to return for Friday's quarterfinals.
Follow along here for live updates from the quarterfinals.
Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals
Michigan State vs. Ohio State
Tip-off: 12:30 p.m. Friday, United Center, Chicago
TV: Big Ten Network
Records: Michigan State is 25-6; Ohio State is 19-13