Ohio State surprises No. 7 Michigan State 82-70
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Seventh-ranked Michigan State beat Ohio State twice this year on its way to winning the regular-season Big Ten title.
No way the Buckeyes were letting the Spartans get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, too.
Ohio State used every bit of its depth and versatility, not to mention some nifty 3-point shooting, in overpowering the Spartans 82-70 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament Saturday. It was the second-most points allowed this year by the Spartans, who lost for only the second time in 11 games.
“Yeah, we watch TV, and we’ve heard people talking about Michigan State getting a No. 1 seed. We were like, ‘Not on our watch, not on our watch,”’ P.J. Hill said.
Not a chance. Not when Ohio State (22-9) gets contributions from just about everyone on the roster.
Evan Turner had all 18 of his points in the second half, along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Jon Diebler had 17 on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, William Buford had 14 and B.J. Mullens added 12. The Buckeyes shot 53 percent, including 9-of-16 from 3-point range, and made all but six of their 29 free throws.
“I’m trying to decide am I more disappointed with us or more impressed with the way they shot the ball,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “The better team won today. It’s disappointing, because I don’t think we gave it our best shot.”
Kalin Lucas had 17, one of three players in double figures for the Spartans, who were hoping that sweeping the Big Ten titles might convince the NCAA selection committee to make them a No. 1 seed, especially after former No. 1s Pittsburgh and Connecticut and higher-ranked Oklahoma lost.
But it’s tough to win when shooting just 38 percent, including 3-of-21 from 3-point range.
“I’ve said all along, we don’t even deserve a No. 1 seed. Now we’ve made it easy on them,” Izzo said.
Ohio State will play No. 24 Purdue on Sunday for a shot at its second tournament crown in three years. The Boilermakers beat Illinois 66-56 in the second semifinal.
The Spartans (26-6) handily won the regular-season Big Ten title, finishing four games ahead of second-place Purdue and Illinois. But for as good as they played in stretches (they came into Saturday on a six-game winning streak), they could be just as troubling. That 98-63 loss to North Carolina is understandable, but they were also routed 72-54 by Purdue and got beat by Northwestern. At home.
Izzo openly worried about what he calls his team’s “instability” and Saturday is a perfect example of why.
Turner couldn’t get his shot to fall in the first half, but the Buckeyes were still able to control the game thanks, in part, to the Spartans making just two field goals in a 7 1/2 -minute span. They had another long drought in the second half.
“It’s one of those games where we couldn’t score,” Delvon Roe said. “In games like that, your defense has got to be able to carry you, and our defense didn’t carry us.”
Turner finally scored with 18:30 to play, converting a three-point play that gave Ohio State a 40-31 lead, and the Buckeyes’ offense took off from there.
“He opened a lot up for us,” Mullens said. “He’s our main player and even though he wasn’t scoring, he got a lot of rebounds and assists and that opened a lot of things up for us.”
The Spartans got back within 5 on back-to-back baskets by Draymond Green and Chris Allen. But instead of panicking, the Buckeyes responded with a 20-9 run that showed every bit of their power.
Hill got it started with a 3, Dallas Lauderdale converted a three-point play and then scored on a reverse. Turner had the ball and probably could have taken a shot, but he spotted an open Mullens open under the basket. Mullens made the layup and was fouled, converting another three-point play for Ohio State.
After another 3, this one by Jeremie Simmons, Michigan State called a timeout. But if the Spartans were hoping to stop Ohio State’s momentum, it didn’t work. Turner sandwiched buckets around a pair of free throws from Mullens, and Ohio State had a 60-44 lead with 7:49 to play.
“At the beginning of the game they were focused on me a lot, Michigan State was,” Turner said. “And as my teammates made more shots, then we were an all-around offensive threat just as a team, and it just made things way easier for me.”
Roe finally stopped the run with a layup, Michigan State’s first field goal in almost seven minutes. After a layup by Allen, Korie Lucious single-handedly tried to get the Spartans back in the game. The freshman hit a 3—only the second of the day for the Spartans—made a pair of layups and converted all three free throws when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt to cut Ohio State’s lead to 68-58 with 4:33 to play.
But the Spartans would go another 2 minutes without a field goal and were forced to foul in the final minutes. Turner made 3-of-4 in the last two minutes.
“I just think we’re really focused right now,” Turner said. “We just came together. This was a good team win all around. We all keyed in for 40 minutes to play hard.”