Columbus, Ohio – It was all Adreian Payne could do in a return to his home state.
The Dayton, Ohio native dominated the paint for the majority of Sunday’s contest against No. 18 Ohio State, finishing the game with 12 points and 14 rebounds and asserting himself as one of the Big Ten’s most dangerous weapons.
But it wasn’t enough. Not this time.
Even with the junior center’s fifth double-double of the season, the No. 4 Spartans (22-6 overall, 11-4 Big Ten) couldn’t overcome a deflating second half run and fell to the Buckeyes (20-7, 10-5), 68-60.
Freshman guard Gary Harris was MSU’s leading scorer, accumulating 14 points while Payne and senior center Derrick Nix each finished with 12 points apiece.
After MSU missed its first three shots of the game, Harris got the scoring going, soaring under the basket for a layup to get the Spartans on the board.
Harris’ layup was the start of a 6-0 run to give the Spartans an early lead on the road.
Coming off a layup by junior guard Keith Appling, the Buckeyes regained the lead starting with a 3-pointer by forward Sam Thompson to trigger a 6-0 run of their own.
The teams battled back-and-forth in the half before the Spartans grabbed the lead and ended the first half on a 7-3 run.
But after holding a halftime lead, the game unraveled for the Spartans.
Harris and Payne opened the second half with back-to-back makes to push the Spartan lead to nine points, signaling a strong start with a chance to run away with the game.
However, a big 3-pointer by DeShaun Thomas coming off a miss by Aaron Craft answered the bell for the Buckeyes to shrink the deficit in the opening minutes of the half.
Thomas was one of three Buckeyes to finish in double figures in the game, securing 14 points and seven rebounds.
The bucket was a major trigger for the Buckeyes, who outscored MSU 24-7 across the midway point of the half to open the game up.
Craft used several layups to establish himself a catalyst of the run, scoring eight of his 21 points in the game in the first 10 minutes of the half to power the Buckeyes to a double-digit lead.
A layup and a free throw made on a foul by Harris allowed the Spartans to continue to chip away at the lead, narrowing the deficit to two with 2:35 to play.
The Buckeyes stretched the lead back to five on a Craft layup and never looked back to upset the Spartans on their home floor.