Ohio State Battles but Drops a Tough One to Spartans

Before a sellout crowd that included former head football coach Urban Meyer, QB Dwayne Haskins and incoming QB Justin Fields, the 14th ranked Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes fell to the 8th ranked Michigan State Spartans 86-77 to fall to 12-2 and 2-1 in the Big Ten.  Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 25 and 8 rebounds and Luther Muhammad added 12.  C.J. Jackson and Andre Wesson scored 10 each for the losing Buckeyes. The Spartans were led by Cassius Winston’s 25 and Nick Ward’s 21 to gain the victory. The Spartans missed their third leading scorer, Joshua Langford who averages 15 points per game, who was out with an ankle injury but it did not deter the talented Spartans as they moved to 13-2 and 4-0 in Big Ten play.

It was a feeling out process for both teams early in the basketball game with Michigan State maintaining a one-possession lead for much of the first 8 minutes.  The Spartans stretched the lead to 5 before a dribble drive along the right side of the lane by Kyle Young, who kicked it to Jackson on the wing and Jackson buried the three to cut the lead to 2.  A couple of possessions later, Jackson found Young on the backdoor along the baseline for the lay in to tie the score with just over 10 minutes to play in the half.  The Buckeyes stayed within a point for the next several possessions before a steal at the point by Jackson and a lay in gave Ohio State their first lead with 6:40 remaining in the half.  The Spartans regained the lead to as much as three before the Buckeyes went to work.  A 10-0 run capped by a Duane Washington triple from the right corner forced Coach Tom Izzo to call timeout with 1:43 remaining and the Buckeyes holding a 7-point lead.  A Spartan triple late in the half, cut the lead to four, but Kaleb Wesson drilled a three from the top of the key with just seconds left in the half gave the Buckeyes a 43-36 lead with the teams heading to the locker room.  Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 18 points and 7 rebounds and C.J. Jackson filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 6 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and ZERO turnovers.  Nick Ward of Gahanna Lincoln High School led Michigan State with 14 points. The Buckeyes held the lead utilizing great defense, forcing the Spartans into 5 turnovers and only turning it over once themselves.

Ohio State stretched the lead to 9 before a quick Spartan 4-0 run cut the lead to 5 but Andre Wesson’s three from the left corner built the lead back to 8 with just under 18 minutes to play.  A pair of quick fouls on the defensive end from Kaleb Wesson on the same possession sent him to the bench with 3 personals in a key moment of the ball game.  The Spartans trimmed the lead to 4 again at the under 16 media timeout as the momentum of the game had switched slightly in Michigan State’s favor.  The Spartans continued the run, upping it to 9-0 and a 1-point lead when a triple from the left wing fell.  Luther Muhammad ended that run on the ensuing possession, banking in a fade away jumper from the free throw line giving Ohio State the lead right back.  A Duane Washington runner from the right block fell giving the Buckeyes a three-point advantage with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game.  The Spartans came right back and when Cassius Winston, who began to heat up in the second half, buried a three from the top of the key, Michigan State held a 1 point advantage with 11:30 remaining.  The Buckeyes answered as Kaleb Wesson found some room to work in the paint on back to back possessions to give Ohio State a one point lead at the under 12 timeout.  A key moment at the 9 minute mark of the ball game as Kaleb Wesson picked up a very questionable loose ball foul, his fourth of the game.  The Spartans buried both free throws to lead by 5.  On the next possession, a three from the right wing off the fingertips of Washington cut the Spartan lead to 2.  After a Michigan State turnover, Andre Wesson went to work on the block and laid it in to tie the score as the teams went into the under 8 minute media timeout with the score deadlocked at 64.  A pair of missed free throws from Kaleb Wesson at the 4-minute mark allowed the Spartans to stretch the lead to 3 forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with just 3:28 remaining and Michigan State leading 75-72.  The Buckeyes went over 3 minutes without scoring and some questionable officiating enabled the Spartans to stretch the lead to 8 with both Wesson’s fouling out and just a minute to go.  The Buckeyes cut the lead to 6 on a Muhammad lay in and forced a Spartan turnover on the inbounds but the Buckeyes turned it right back over trying to inbounds the basketball ending any comeback hopes.

The Buckeyes looked at times, like they were going to get a big win to kick off January but foul trouble, questionable officiating and cold shooting late cost Ohio State in a big way.  The young Buckeyes will learn from this one but they can clearly see how good they can be when they are clicking on all cylinders, but the Spartans are a veteran group and they did not panic.  There will be better days ahead as Ohio State continues into the heart of the Big Ten season which is always difficult but a game like this should help them and how they respond over the next couple weeks will go a long way in determining where they ultimately finish in the conference.

The Buckeyes take the floor again on Wednesday night at Rutgers.  Tip time for that game is scheduled for 7 PM in Piscataway, NJ., to be aired on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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