FINAL: No. 1 MSU shell-shocked on the road by unranked Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The last time Nick Ward and the Spartans paid a visit, Ohio State was just too much to handle.
Maybe next year the sophomore forward from Gahanna, a town about 10 miles from Columbus, can win a game so close to his hometown.
In front of a crowd of 17,599 at the Schottenstein Center, No. 1 MSU (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) dropped its first conference game on Sunday to an Ohio State team that throttled MSU, 80-64. The Spartans lost last season in Columbus, 72-67.
Forward Keita Bates-Diop scored a game-high 32 points to help the Buckeyes (13-4, 4-0) shoot 53.4 percent from the floor — the highest total of any opponent this season.
Four Spartans reached double figures, led by guard Joshua Langford's and guard Miles Bridges' 17 points. Point guard Cassius Winston had 12 and forward Jaren Jackson scored 11 but fouled out with 9:49 to play.
Ward was held to three points and turned the ball over three times, but snagged 10 rebounds.
“He played his heart and soul out there,” Winston said of Ward. “I feel bad that we couldn’t get the ball to him more.
“But to his credit he didn’t quit. He played his heart out until the end and that showed a lot about who he is.”
MSU finished the game shooting 38.6 percent.
“I was disappointed our lack of offense dictated our lack of defense,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. “I felt our lack of offense dictated our lack of defense and that shouldn’t happen when you travel.”
MSU opened the game hot on a 7-2 run and hit three of its first four shots from the field. Winston made a layup with 17:19 left in the first to make it 9-4, but it was MSU’s last make from the field in its next nine attempts, allowing the Buckeyes to take a 15-11 lead.
The Spartans retained cabin pressure for most of the half, until the Buckeyes unloaded a 12-0 run in the last 1:10 of the half to take a 41-29 lead into halftime. The run was capped off after a technical called on Izzo by a 3-pointer from bench guard Andrew Dakich with one second before halftime.
“I’m going to take a lot of the blame,” Izzo said. “I’m taking a lot of the heat off of my team, I’m going to do that. But that stretch, I thought, cost us a lot.”
Bates-Diop scored 16 in the first half and led OSU to 45.9 percent shooting. Bridges shot 2-of-9.
The Buckeyes extended its lead up to 24 in the second half. MSU tried to show signs of life late in the second half with a 10-0 run to make cut its deficit to 69-55 with 6:25 to play. That's the closest MSU would come.
“Michigan State is a great team,” OSU forward Jae’Sean Tate said. “So we knew that just because we were up by that much we had a whole other half to play. We were trying to just stop as many runs as we could to keep them from getting back in the game.”
MSU returns to the Breslin Center on Wednesday to play Rutgers (11-4, 1-3) at 7 p.m. The Spartans won its previous matchup against the Scarlet Knights, 62-52 on Dec. 5.