COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michigan State basketball’s downward slide continued.
It wasn’t nearly as anemic a performance as three days earlier at Rutgers, but the Spartans remained stagnant and fell behind by 20 points midway through the second half at No. 15 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Shots started falling in the final 9 minutes, with the deficit dwindling to single-digits briefly, but it was too late as MSU dropped its third straight, 79-62, at Value City Arena.
Joshua Langford returned to the starting lineup and led the Spartans with 14 points but was just 4 of 15 shooting. Joey Hauser added 11 points, while Aaron Henry had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists while battling foul trouble.
Rocket Watts, who started at point guard over A.J. Hoggard, struggled again. The sophomore made 2 of 9 shots for six points with two assists and two turnovers in 26 minutes.
MSU (8-6, 2-6 Big Ten) heads to No. 7 Iowa for a 7 p.m. tip Tuesday, a game originally scheduled for Jan. 14 postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Spartans’ program. It was the first of three games called off for MSU that led to a 20-day layoff between games.
The Spartans had 14 of their 15 players back at OSU, minus junior Gabe Brown, who tested positive late last week. Assistant coach Dane Fife also missed his second game after a positive COVID-19 test.
MSU, which scored 37 in a 30-point loss at Rutgers, scored 30 in the first half against the Buckeyes, but trailed 42-30 at halftime. E.J. Liddell did the damage inside with nine points, and Justin Ahrens and Duane Washington Jr. hit three 3-pointers and combined for 12 points before the break.
MSU shot 32.1%, including 25% in the second half. The Spartans also got beat again on the boards, 38-37, and outscored 28-18 in the paint as Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham Jr. and Julius Marble all battled foul trouble.
Each team had 24 fouls in a game with minimal flow.
Liddell scored 20 points with eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (14-4, 8-4). Justice Sueing added 17, and C.J. Walker scored 10.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball continues its slide in loss to Ohio State