Michigan State basketball picked up another big upset against Ohio State on Thursday night. What led to this huge win by the Spartans?
Michigan State’s remarkable winning streak rolls on as it took down Ohio State on Thursday evening to add another impressive notch to that NCAA tournament resume. The Spartans have defeated the fifth-ranked team (Illinois) and the fourth-ranked team (OSU) in a span of three days. That in itself is an incredible feat.
Listed below are some of the takeaways that impacted the game in a major way.
- Buckeye guard Duane Washington Jr. was fresh off of hanging 30 points on Michigan. His hot hand continued at the Breslin Center as he scored 15 points during the game’s first 24 minutes. Then the Spartans locked in and put the clamps on Washington Jr. Aaron Henry and Co. limited him to only two points over the course of the final 16 minutes of the contest. After he shot 50 percent from deep against the Wolverines, Michigan State’s perimeter defenders limited him to 14 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Not the homecoming that the Grand Rapids-native anticipated.
- With 13 minutes and change remaining, Ohio State’s lead swelled to nine, and Michigan State was on the verge of collapsing. Henry, Joshua Langford, Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham all rose to the occasion to each make game-changing plays on both ends of the floor to keep Ohio State from pulling away.
- Coach Izzo deserves a lot of credit for calling a timeout to draw up a terrific play when Michigan State fell behind 61-57 with a shade over four minutes to go. He let Henry attack from the top of the key where he kicked the ball out to Joey Hauser who drained a huge three to bring MSU within a point. Hauser was ultra efficient against Illinois (scoring 13 points in a mere 14 minutes of play). He made sank some clutch buckets when it mattered most down the stretch in this one. It’s encouraging to see him responding after he was mired in a slump from late January to early February.
- Michigan State made life tough in the paint for Ohio State’s super sophomore E.J. Liddell. They held him under 20 points, forced him into missing nine shots (Washington Jr. also had as many misses). On the season, Liddell hits about 49 percent of his shots. MSU held him to 31 percent accuracy on the interior on this given night.
- MSU also hounded Justice Sueing. When these two teams met last month, Sueing went for 17 points and seven rebounds. It was a different story this time around as he only managed 10 points and three rebounds. It should also be noted that Justin Ahrens was held scoreless.
- Aaron Henry has evolved into a monster. The leap he’s made from his second year on campus to his third has been a treat to watch. He played 79 of a possible 80 minutes in Michigan State’s two previous games. His motor has improved dramatically. Foul trouble caused him to play less minutes against the Buckeyes but he didn’t let that deter him from having yet another stellar performance. He scored 18 points (7-for-11 from the field) to go along with four rebounds and four assists. The game is slowing down for him and he’s proving that he belongs on the big stage.
- Joshua Langford’s leadership is a component that often is overlooked. He’s the veteran who is constantly bringing teammates together during stoppages of play. He and Henry have steadied the ship when the team has gone through rough waters. Langford has ice in his veins during winning time as he drilled a long jumper with 30 seconds left to give MSU a 3-point cushion.
- AJ Hoggard quietly played a sound brand of basketball (6 assists) as Rocket Watts struggled with his shot and Foster Loyer remained sidelined with a shoulder injury.
- Gabe Brown has gradually been earning more and more trust from the coaching staff as the season progresses. He put together a solid game with 11 points and five rebounds. His outside shooting has always been a tremendous weapon. Now, he’s beginning to guard well enough to stay out on the floor for extended periods of time. He and Marcus Bingham Jr. (who had a nice game as well with eight points and five rebounds) are juniors that are emerging as critical cogs in the rotation.
- Can someone please share with Chris Holtmann that both teams had the exact same number of fouls called on them?
- Julius Marble is a liability on defense. He had zero rebounds in 16 minutes of play and as many fouls (4) as points scored. He has to become more engaged when guarding opposing big men down on the block.
- Michigan State out-rebounded the Buckeyes (by seven) and accumulated five more assists than they did. The Spartans were the tougher team and avenged their 79-62 loss to Ohio State back in January. The Spartans were physical, focused, and determined and they’re raising their level of play just as their postseason life (and 22 straight NCAA tournament berth streak) is on the line.