COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michigan State men’s basketball was aware of the task at hand.
Lose, the Spartans drop to 2-6 in the Big Ten. A record that would deepen the hole MSU is attempting to climb out of in maybe the best conference in major college basketball.
Win, it fills with sand. But in the top-heavy Big Ten, it might not mean much.
The Spartans fell deeper into the hole Sunday, with a 79-62 loss at No. 13 Ohio State, it was the Spartans' third straight defeat since beating Rutgers on Jan. 5.
After scoring just 37 in a blowout loss to Rutgers, MSU only surpassed the total with 12:05 left in the second half.
"You know, hard to complain about the effort," MSU head coach Tom Izzo said postgame. "I thought we had some good shots, they just didn't go in."
MSU (8-6, 2-6 Big Ten) doesn’t get a break either with a short turnaround before taking on No. 5 Iowa on the road Tuesday.
"Ohio State's a pretty good team. They played hard, they played well. Very physical team for not a (very) huge team. So we took a small step forward in some ways but the shooting woes continue," Izzo said.
Buckeyes first-half runs help them pull away
E.J. Liddell was cooking early.
A three-pointer from the wing, then a grown-man move and-one layup before hitting another mid-range jump shot.
Just 3:41 had gone by in the game and the sophomore forward had eight of his game-high 20 points and the Buckeyes led 11-7.
It was one that the Buckeyes wouldn’t give up. After MSU led 7-6 with 16:59 left in the first half, the Buckeyes took the lead and ran.
Kyle Young scored on back-to-back possessions: First, a baby hook in the paint with 14:59 to play in the half, then a layup.
MSU got as close as 22-19 in the first half, but never any closer the rest of the game.
An 8-2 run pushed the lead to double digits, then OSU closed out the first half with a 10-4 run to give them a 42-30 lead at the break. A dejected Michigan State, which was missing Gabe Brown due to a positive COVID-19, fell flat for a second straight game.
MSU was led in scoring by Joshua Langford with 14 points. The Spartans got the game as close as nine late in the second half but were unable to come all the way back.
MSU struggles with turnovers, offensively
Turnovers have been an issue all season for MSU.
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So has scoring the ball.
MSU is second-worst in the Big Ten in total points scored across 13 games, while they have had cancellations – the number is only higher than a Nebraska team that is 4-8.
Off a ball-screen, the Buckeyes sent a double team at Rocket Watts and he turned it over on a backcourt violation with 11:26 to go in the first half. The play exemplified the struggles of MSU on that end as the Spartans had 10 turnovers in the game, only one more than Ohio State. But OSU scored 14 points off MSU coughing up the rock, the Spartans only scored four points off of the nine OSU turnovers.
The Spartans shot 21% from 3-point land in the game and 32% from the field.
Whether it was running on-ball action to try and free up shooters or drive and kicks, not much fell for the Spartans on Sunday.
MSU heads to Iowa for a matchup with AP Top Five team
The tipoff time for MSU vs. Iowa on Tuesday is at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. The Spartans will have their hands full as they head on the road once again to face the Hawkeyes (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten).
Luka Garza, the star big man for the Hawkeyes, is averaging a dominant 26.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.
If MSU is going to have a shot at upsetting the highly-touted Hawkeyes, they will have to regain their footing on the offensive end and rebound well against the top rebounding team in the Big Ten Conference.
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