Sparks of MSU offense bookended the first half, as the Spartans used back-to-back fast break baskets to take a 30-26 lead over No. 11 Ohio State) into halftime.
The No. 18 MSU men’s basketball team (15-3 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) opened the game on a 12-2 run, with the new starting combo of centers Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne contributing four points apiece.
Sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson also scored four points during the opening rally, but would spend much of the half on the bench with two fouls.
The Spartans made four of their first eight shots, while Ohio State struggled to handle MSU’s initial blow.
The No. 11 Buckeyes (13-3, 3-1) only managed to make one of their first five shots, while committing four turnovers during the run.
But it was MSU that quickly found itself in an offensive funk, going more than seven minutes without a basket as Ohio State took the lead, 17-13, with 6:43 remaining in the first half.
A 3-pointer from Payne ended a stretch where the Spartans missed six consecutive shots while turning the ball over four times.
From that point on the game remained neck-and-neck, with neither team taking a lead larger than three points, until back-to-back buckets from guards Keith Appling and Travis Trice ended the half.
Appling and Payne led MSU in scoring in the first half with seven points apiece, while Nix added six points, three rebounds and two assists.