Sunday, December 5, 2021

3 observations from MSU men's basketball's 79-62 loss to Ohio State

January 31, 2021
<p>Sophomore forward Julius Marble II (34) blocks a shot attempt made by Ohio State&#x27;s E.J. Liddell (32) in the second half. The Buckeyes swept the Spartans, 79-62, at OSU&#x27;s Schottenstein Center on Jan. 31, 2021. </p>

Sophomore forward Julius Marble II (34) blocks a shot attempt made by Ohio State's E.J. Liddell (32) in the second half. The Buckeyes swept the Spartans, 79-62, at OSU's Schottenstein Center on Jan. 31, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Michigan State men's basketball is 2-6 in the Big Ten.

The Spartans fell, 79-62, in Columbus to No. 13 Ohio State as the Buckeyes rolled, scored 28 points in the paint and shot 45% from the field.

It was Ohio State's largest victory over the Spartans since 1987 and Michigan State has lost back-to-back Big Ten games by 15 or more for the first time since 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

There were positives, MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo said after the game.

Even in a defeat.

MSU got the game to a nine-point deficit with 4:20 to play on Aaron Henry's steal and score off an inbounds pass. That capped a 29-25 run by MSU that spanned 14:35 of game time and was their best stretch of basketball during the game.

It wasn't pretty, again. Ohio State closed out MSU with a 7-0 run and Buckeye sophomore E.J. Liddell scored 20 points on a banged-up frontcourt.

Here are three observations from State News sports editor Joe Dandron on the Spartans' loss.

When Joey Hauser is at his best, so are the Spartans

Hauser opened the game with nine points in the first half on 4-of-7 shooting and 1-of-3 shooting from deep.

He was aggressive in the first 20 minutes of the game. Whether it was the low-block spin and scoop shot or a catch and shoot three-pointer, Hauser was involved in a good amount of sets that MSU ran on offense, and the guards were trying to get him the ball.

MSU still fell behind 42-30 at the half, but was within single digits when Hauser scored his final points of the first half with 4:43 to go before the break.

From there, it fell apart.

Throughout the first half, when MSU was at its best, Hauser was an assertive cog in the offensive machine for the Spartans. Poor guard play has hurt him at times, but Joshua Langford looked really good running the offense for MSU and if him and Hauser can form a bond, MSU might have something to build off consistently on that end.

But Hauser has to score more than two points in the second half if MSU is going to win, he was 1-of-4 in the second half.

That isn't going to help MSU. It only hurts the Spartans' chances at taking down the teams they need to as they are faced with climbing out of the cellar of the Big Ten.

Guard play carries you in college basketball. It’s showing with MSU

Th point guard position has been the most consistent part of the Spartans' existence for the previous four years.

All-American guard Cassius Winston isn't turning in his NBA paycheck to come back and play.

That's causing problems for all of the Spartans on offense.

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MSU defends very well at times despite a lack of interior protection around the rim.

It's the offense that is the problem. That is clear, as the Spartans have shot under 40% in each game since they beat Rutgers on Jan. 5 in a blowout victory. The Spartans have only shot above 40% three other times since November.

Rocket Watts looked better in the loss at OSU. Langford has scored in double digits in four of the last five games. It's improving, slowly, but isn't where it needs to be for this team to be at its best.

It's a problem. Guard play often carries college basketball teams — you see it in Gonzaga, Baylor, Texas and Villanova. All of those are AP Top 10 teams this season.

When it's inconsistent, your team will be too.

Liddell is blossoming and so is Ohio State

Ohio State has pretty good wins on its resume.

A Dec. 19 win against a UCLA team that is currently 13-3 , two wins over Rutgers, a road win over Illinois and another road win over Wisconsin.

Combine those wins with a team that is finding its stride in the thick of the Big Ten slate and you have a very formidable ball club in Columbus.

This team, on the legs of veteran guard Duane Washington Jr. — a Grand Rapids, Michigan native — and Liddell, is proving how competitive it can be on both ends of the floor. It's one of OSU's deeper teams as well and despite a lack of size inside, the Buckeyes are extremely physical on the boards and make teams earn their points.

They play as a team on both ends. It's pretty simple.

Liddell, however, is the straw that stirs the drink for OSU.

His 20 points were loud. He had nine at the half and kept attacking in the second. Whenever Marcus Bingham Jr. switched onto him, he went to the block. Whenever he was able to find space on the perimeter, he made MSU pay from deep.

He's only a sophomore and is a special one. With strong support behind Washington and the rest of the Buckeyes roster — toss in Justice Sueing, who scored 17 points in the game Sunday, Ohio State could make some noise in the postseason.

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