With both No. 5 MSU and No. 3 Ohio State lining up for handshakes after Tuesday’s overtime thriller, the Izzone belted out a loud “just like football” chant — paying homage to the 34-24 MSU football Big Ten Championship victory over the Buckeyes on Dec. 7.
The snarky and hardly creative chant aside, that game was indeed just like football. Here’s how the two games are seemingly identical twins separated at birth:
Basketball: Let’s jump to the second half, where MSU took a 17-point lead with eight minutes left. A lead so comfortable that fans in Breslin Center were throwing a party that could only be rivaled by an MSU football postgame locker room.
Football: The gridiron Spartans jumped out to a, you guessed it, 17-point lead early on in the game. The celebrations back home in East Lansing were already beginning, and some people were starting to pinpoint which couch would be the first victim of the night.
Basketball: Uh oh, what’s this? OSU is only down ten with 4:29 left? Now they’re only down by four with two minutes left? Holy crap, now the game is tied? Thanks to Buckeye guard Aaron Craft, who has been a thorn in MSU’s side during his illustrious career, OSU took back the game and momentum in the final minutes of regulation. The Green and White party in Breslin is over, and now just about every Spartan fan is nervous.
Football: Up 17 points to start the game? No problem, right? If OSU quarterback Braxton Miller, who also has given MSU nightmares in the past, didn’t generate 24 unanswered points, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. Except he did, stopping the hysteria and starting the nervous hand-wringing back home in East Lansing.
Basketball: How did MSU squander such a huge lead, and how will they get it back? With 2:40 left on the clock in overtime, the Spartans found their answer. Redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski, who a good chunk of Spartan fans didn’t know of before this season, buried a 3-pointer to give MSU a 62-60 lead and brand new energy. Sophomore guard Gary Harris called it the moment that shifted all the momentum back to Sparty’s side for the time being.
Football: Down 24-20 in the fourth quarter and feverishly seeking a turning point after giving up a huge lead, MSU was looking for its hero to help turn the tide of the game. Well, they found their man in another redshirt freshman — Josiah Price, a player many MSU fans wouldn’t recognize if they shared an elevator with him before the season. Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook hooked up with the wide-open tight end to give MSU the 27-24 lead with 11:41 remaining in the game. The team found new life against the Buckeyes and were starting to smell the roses.
Basketball: With the game winding down, OSU and MSU were gridlocked at a 66-all tie. With the shot clock expiring, practically basketball’s fourth down, senior guard and team leader Keith Appling splashed the go-ahead 3-pointer to seal the game for MSU.
Football: With the ball near midfield and 5:46 of game time left, it was 4th-and-2 for OSU, who was looking at a three-point deficit. Miller ran to the right, but senior linebacker Denicos Allen stepped up and made the crucial tackle. MSU went on to score another touchdown and book their tickets to Pasadena, Calif. shortly after.
The 17-point MSU lead. The OSU comeback led by an MSU enemy. A redshirt freshman helping the Spartans regain momentum. A senior leader stepping up to ice the game. And in the end, a victory for MSU over a talented OSU team on primetime television.
Izzone, you were right — it was “just like football.”
Matt Sheehan is a State News basketball reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.