It seemed like No. 18 Michigan State was going to hold on to beat the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon. The streaky Buckeyes were out of sync and turning the ball over, and whenever they would creep close, the Spartans would make a shot a answer back.
But as MSU took a 10-point lead (45-35) with 11:42 left in the game, they lost their poise and control in the game, while Ohio State put on a full-court press and starting trapping.
Suddenly Michigan State fell apart, throwing the ball away, falling for the trap, and worst of all, would commit three consecutive shot-clock violations in the final five minutes.
Ohio State (19-12, 10-8) would finish the game on a 28-9 run and overcome a 12-point deficit to beat the Spartans (24-7, 12-6) and improve their NCAA tournament chances.
Raymar Morgan led MSU with 19 points, including seven of the nine points that MSU scored to end the game.
Drew Neitzel got off to a quick start, hitting two three-pointers in the first minute of the game, but went scoreless the rest of the way.
Michigan State goes home with a sour taste in their mouth after having one get away, one they needed to build confidence heading into the Big Ten tournament.
Despite their tough loss to the Buckeyes though, the two teams will meet again on Friday in the 4 vs.5 matchup in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
Jamar Butler led all scorers with 20 points on his senior day at home, while it was Othello Hunter's two baskets late that increased the Buckeye's lead. Hunter finished with 13 points.
After having four straight games with less turnovers, Michigan State gave the ball up 17 times, including numerous giveaways as a result of the OSU press.
One of the biggest differences in the game was Ohio State's aggressiveness and the lack of it from MSU.
While the Buckeyes went inside to Hunter, Kosta Koufos, David Lighty and others, getting inside shots and drawing fouls, the Spartans continued to look for their outside shot, settling for outside jumpers and not challenging Ohio State inside.
Kalin Lucas' drive to the hoop to end the first half gave the Spartans up by eight points at halftime, but his ability to dribble penetrate was not there in the second half.
Butler would pick apart the MSU defense and put them on their heels by driving and passing off for easy layups by Lighty, Matt Terwilliger and any Buckeyes who happened to be under the basket.
Michigan State can bet they will see more of the press from Ohio State next Friday, which is a major problem for the Spartans, who continue to struggle under defensive ball pressure.
Although Ohio State needs more wins to stay on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, Michigan State needs wins to prevent themselves from backing into the NCAA tournament on a bad note.
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