MSU men’s basketball falls in crushing blow to Ohio State

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Gina Guy

“I would say this one stings about as much as any loss I’ve had in eight or ten years,” head coach Tom Izzo said postgame. 

Long trends were broken Sunday as former Division II player Dale Bonner hit a three over the outstretched arm of senior guard Tyson Walker with only 0.2 seconds left to lift the Buckeyes to a 60-57 win. 

“I was just trying to get a shot up, honestly,” Bonner said. 

Michigan State (17-11, 9-8 Big Ten) had not lost consecutive home games since Feb. 2020. Ohio State (16-12, 6-11 Big Ten) had lost a program record 17 straight road games, the last such victory coming on the first day of 2023 at Northwestern. Both long trends were broken. 

The Buckeye hero had previously played for Fairmont State and Baylor before transferring to Columbus last April. He averaged 4.4 points per game going into this contest. 

“That was me drawing up a play, Coach Izzo taking that play away, and players making plays,” said Ohio State interim head coach Jake Diebler.

The Spartans’ 12-point lead came with about 11 minutes left in the game. Ohio State outscored MSU 22-7 the rest of the way, capped by Bonner’s buzzer-beater. 

MSU had the lead for 38:24 out of 40 minutes. OSU had the lead for six seconds. 

Ohio State had just 22 points in the first half, one above their season-low for either half. They went from shooting 24.1% going into halftime to 51.7% in the second. 

“We didn’t deserve to win the game, they deserved to win the game,” Izzo said. 

This result is the first OSU victory in East Lansing since Draymond Green’s senior night on March 4, 2012. The Buckeyes also won that game on a last-second shot from William Buford with a second left. MSU had won the previous nine meetings at the Breslin. 

The Spartans had a rough night shooting the ball. Tyson Walker was held to 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting, including 1-for-6 from downtown. Walker also failed to give MSU a lead after getting to the free throw line with the Spartans down one with six seconds left. 

Junior guard Jaden Akins, who leads the team in three-pointers made, failed to hit one beyond the arc in three attempts and was 1-9 overall. He ended the game with just four points in 34 minutes, though he did record three steals. 

MSU ended up shooting 25% on three-pointers as a team, going 0-for-7 in the second half. What is interesting is that Ohio State was even worse. They shot 3-for-17, just 17.6%. Two were from Bonner, and the other was from sophomore star Bruce Thornton. 

“Those aren’t very good numbers,” Izzo said. 

The Spartans contained Thornton relatively well. His one three-pointer was on six attempts. He shot 4-for-13 overall and scored 11 points. He averages 16.4 per game, which leads the Buckeyes. 

Ohio State was also missing second-leading scorer Jamison Battle with an ankle injury. It was not clear he was out until pregame warmups.

“I think that helped them…” Izzo said. “I swear when I get into a game, if somebody’s missing a player and I find out right before the game, that’s never a good thing from my standpoint.” 

Freshman Devin Royal was the one to step up in Battle’s absence. Royal, who was averaging 3.3 points per game, set a new career-high and led the Buckeyes Sunday with 14 points in just under 18 minutes. 

This is the second straight time the Buckeyes have beaten MSU without a key player. Ohio State beat the Spartans without leading scorer and eventual first-round pick Brice Sensabaugh in the Big Ten Tournament last season.  

One of the other storylines before the game was Xavier Booker making his first career start. He received by far the loudest ovation of any Spartan when the starting lineups were introduced. The freshman ended up swatting three shots and scoring seven points in 17 minutes. 

“It definitely felt great tonight, especially after how far I’ve came this season,” Booker said.

The Spartans have six days to recover from this gut punch until they have to go on the road and face No. 3 Purdue. The Boilermakers are putting the finishing touches on a Big Ten regular season title and have not lost at home this year. The last home loss was exactly a year ago Sunday when they fell to No. 17 Indiana. 

MSU now sits two games behind Northwestern and Wisconsin for a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The final home game of the year will be against the Wildcats on March 6. 

“We’ve got three games left to make some differences, to make some changes, but you know, we’ve got to be a lot better in winning time,” senior guard A.J. Hoggard said.

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