by Stix Lightfoot
Michigan State ended Ohio State’s home winning streak of 39 games by a score of 58 to 48 on Saturday, February 11th. It marked the end of the second-longest home winning streak in the nation, topped only by Kentucky.
The Spartan defense shut down an explosive Buckeye offense, in large part by frustrating the Buckeyes’ star player, Jared Sullinger. The sophomore center had no answer, and looked out of sync for the course of the game, mostly because of the intense defense he faced which led to ten Sullinger turnovers. As a team, the Buckeyes shot 26% from the field including a 2-for-12 effort each for William Buford and Deshaun Thomas (key shooters for Ohio State). The tandem totaled 12 points, almost 17 below their total season average. According to ESPN, point guard Aaron Craft summed it up by saying “We got a little selfish and we were looking for our own shots.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan State was running on all cylinders, led by big man Adreian Payne’s 15 points, who was 6-for-6 on the night from the field. Coach Thad Matta thought the Buckeyes still looked good on defense, despite giving up the stellar performance to the Dayton-born center. He attributed the loss to the poor shooting performance by the Big Ten’s defending champs.
Despite the loss, the Buckeyes are still in a position to repeat a Big Ten championship, and a possible one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The team’s ranking dropped to six, but could easily find its way to the top four by the end of the season, if they are able to bounce back from the loss. The win for the Spartans will add a great resume builder for the tournament committee, which could turn out to be crucial on the all-important Selection Sunday.