They’re still atop the Big Ten standings, but after the Michigan State Spartans had their 28-game home winning streak snapped by an unlikely foe, they realize that they can’t just show up and expect to win.
Michigan State looks to get back on track on Sunday afternoon in Columbus as it faces an Ohio State squad that is also trying to start a new winning streak.
The seventh-ranked Spartans (15-3, 5-1), who hold a half-game conference lead over Illinois, lost for the first time in 12 games on Wednesday, falling to Northwestern 70-63 in East Lansing.
Michigan State, second in the Big Ten this season with a 46.5 shooting percentage, hit a season-low 19 field goals in 47 attempts (40.4 percent) versus the Wildcats.
“We couldn’t do the job against a team that played very well. … We looked like a dysfunctional team,” said Spartans coach Tom Izzo, 17-7 against Ohio State.
Beginning with its 67-58 win over visiting Ohio State on Jan. 6, Michigan State is shooting just 41.9 percent from the field in its last five games. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are holding opponents to 39.3 percent from the field this season.
With their first 3-0 record on the road in the Big Ten in 31 seasons, the Spartans will have to take better care of the basketball on Sunday if they want to snap a two-game skid in Columbus. Michigan State committed 18 turnovers for the second straight game on Wednesday.
“Too many turnovers by the guards and the bigs,” sophomore Kalin Lucas said after his season-high six-turnover game against Northwestern.
Lucas, the Spartans’ leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, had a team-high 20 points against the Buckeyes in the teams’ first meeting this season.
Senior center Goran Suton posted his second double-double in three games on Wednesday with 15 points and 14 boards. In seven career games against Ohio State, Suton is averaging 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Junior Raymar Morgan, a native of Canton, Ohio, is looking to rebound from a one-point outing against Northwestern, as he was limited to 18 minutes with flulike symptoms. Morgan is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 58.3 percent from the field in two career games in Columbus.
Travis Walton also returns to his home state on Sunday. With seven assists against the Buckeyes, the senior guard from Lima would pass Magic Johnson (491) for sixth all-time in Michigan State history.
Ohio State (13-4, 3-3) plays its third consecutive ranked opponent on Sunday following a 67-49 loss at No. 25 Illinois on Tuesday. The Buckeyes shot just 41.3 percent from the field and committed a season-high 20 turnovers as their three-game winning streak was snapped.
“We didn’t have the energy or whatever to be in this game tonight,” Ohio State coach Thad Motta said. “In college basketball you can’t be high or too low and have to be ready to play.”
Freshman B.J. Mullens has been ready to play. The 7-foot center, who is shooting a Big Ten-best 61.5 percent from the field, is averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 boards in his last five games.
Team leading scorer Evan Turner is coming off a season-low four points against the Fighting Illini. He posted his sixth career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Buckeyes’ last meeting with Michigan State.
The Spartans’ last win in Columbus was 62-59 in double overtime on Jan. 15, 2006.