Xavier Booker's lack of second-half minutes vs. Ohio State was inexplicable

Michigan State's Xavier Booker makes a 3-pointer against Ohio State during the first half on Sunday,
Michigan State's Xavier Booker makes a 3-pointer against Ohio State during the first half on Sunday, / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

Seventeen minutes. That's honestly all Michigan State basketball fans were asking for Tom Izzo to give Xavier Booker on any given night -- the 17 minutes actually exceeded expectations.

But as the clock dwindled down on Sunday night and Michigan State scored just a dozen points in the final 11 minutes, it was clear that those 17 minutes were just not enough. The freshman phenom played really well in the first half and then began the second half on the floor but got taken out with just about 15 minutes to play.

And he never went back in.

When asked after the game, Booker admitted that he was surprised that he never saw the floor again and he didn't think that he wouldn't see the floor in the final 15 minutes. But he said he trusted Izzo and the coaching staff and had faith in his teammates.

Unfortunately, Michigan State couldn't hold on to a lead in those final 15 minutes. He left the game when Michigan State was up 40-31 and the Spartans were -12 the remainder of the game. Is that just a coincidence? Maybe, but Ohio State interim coach Jake Diebler admitted that he was able to get the ball deeper into the post with Booker out. That led to a lot of easy buckets around the rim.

That makes Booker's lack of second-half playing time even more inexplicable. What made it worse was that Mady Sissoko had two critical mistakes in the final two minutes that led to Ohio State taking a lead. He's not the reason the Spartans lost, but playing the team's fourth-best center over the top option played a major role.

Izzo has to realize that Booker was the reason this team played with so much energy to actually build a double-digit lead and when he came out, Ohio State did whatever it wanted in the paint and clawed back into it.

Booker cannot be on the bench for 10-15-minute stretches again for the rest of the year.