Michigan State men’s basketball traded in its usual home floor for the notorious United Center on Friday afternoon for the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. The No. 4 seed Spartans took on No. 13 seed Ohio State in the Buckeyes third straight day of hoops in Chicago. Ultimately, inconsistency cost the Spartans a chance at the tournament title, allowing the Buckeyes to advance to the semifinals after a 68-58 victory.
After the Buckeyes hung on to knock off Iowa on Thursday afternoon, it was official that MSU would face OSU for the second time within five days.
In their last two contests, the Spartans overcame the Buckeyes, most recently in a senior day showdown where junior guard A.J. Hoggard led the charge with 23 points and seven assists.
Prior to the matchup, OSU announced that freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh would sit out on Friday due to knee soreness.
In OSU’s first round matchup against Wisconsin on Wednesday, Sensabaugh clinched a team-high 11 rebounds followed by a critical 27 points against the Hawkeyes, allowing the Buckeyes to advance to the quarterfinals.
Both teams had a slow offensive start. Once senior guard Tyson Walker sank a pull-up jumper, the offense got rolling with baskets from a mix of Spartans.
It was a back-and-forth affair early on in the first half.
Midway through the half, the green and white slowed down, just as OSU started to heat up. MSU struggled to get something going on the offensive end of the floor. The Buckeyes offense was running through MSU, knocking down decently guarded baskets one after another.
Freshman guard Tre Holloman got comfortable in the first half going 1-3 from the floor in his eight minutes. The freshman broke the Spartan scoring drought with just over five minutes to play when Walker sent over the ball for an open jumper.
In the absence of Sensabaugh, OSU redshirt senior forward Justice Sueing posed a problem for the Spartans early on, collecting eight of the Buckeyes’s points almost immediately in the first half.
On the glass, the green and white just barely outrebounded the Buckeyes 16-15.
Michigan State’s late offensive efforts didn’t cut it, allowing the Buckeyes to hang onto their lead 33-24 at the half.
The green and white returned to the floor with a scoring hunger. MSU got cooking quickly, with buckets from a variety of players.
With just over 17 minutes remaining, sophomore guard Jaden Akins knocked down three followed by a block from junior center Mady Sissoko, allowing Hoggard to take the ball down the court for a quick layup to cut OSU’s lead down to one possession.
Despite a hot offensive start to the half for MSU, the Buckeyes matched their opponent, extending the lead back up to double-digits.
Shortly after, MSU hit a wall, unable to get anything going. Consistency has been an obstacle for the Spartans all season, and it was amplified in Friday afternoon’s game.
The Buckeyes capitalized on MSU's second half rut, becoming a machine from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes were 9-18 from deep with five minutes remaining compared to a measly 3-12 for the green and white.
Just when it seemed to be over for the Spartans, graduate student forward Joey Hauser dished the ball over to Hoggard for a bucket from behind the arc, followed by another two points as Hoggard weaved his way around OSU in the paint and drove to the basket, shortening OSU's lead to six.
Despite momentum late in the second half to seal the win and live to see another day in the tournament semifinals, the Buckeyes outlasted MSU, 68-58, their first win against the Spartans this season.
NCAA Tournament seeding will be announced on Sunday's selection show, following the final contest at the United Center.
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