INDIANAPOLIS - After surviving an off night against Minnesota on Friday, Michigan State hoped that they would put it all together against a rapidly improving Ohio State team.
Instead, MSU couldn't score - going nearly seven minutes without a basket and watched as Ohio State shot a blistering 71% from three-point range in the second half and matched them on the boards (33-39), en route to a 82-70 win that sent them into the finals of the Big Ten tournament and sent the Spartans back to East Lansing early, hopeful that the NCAA selection committe will put more stock into their body of work during the regular season than the short tourney run.
MSU is buoyed by the fact that several top program also fell in their conference tournaments. LSU (Mississippi State), Pittsburgh, North Carolina (Florida State) and UConn all were bounced from their respective conference tournaments. However the impressive wins of Memphis and Louisville seem to point to the Spartans gaining a #2 or perhaps even a #3 seed.
Ohio State's Evan Turner did the Spartans in with 18 second half points, ten rebounds and five assists. Turner talked about the difference that helped him to go from scoreless to a double-digit second half output.
"I made baskets, obviously, but Coach (Thad Matta) called some pretty good numbers, pretty good calls for me to get me open and let me create, but also my teammates were hitting jump shots which opened stuff up. And at the beginning of the game they were focused on me a lot, Michigan State was. As my teammates made more shots, then we were an all-around offensive threat just as a team and it just made things way easier for me."
Jon Diebler jumped started the Buckeyes on a three-point bomb right at the start of the half, Diebler finished with 17 poihts and five rebounds, William Buford added fourteen for Ohio State.
Michigan State was led by Big Ten Player of the Year Kalin Lucas who scored 17 and freshman Korie Lucious came off the bench to add 16 while Goran Suton made all five of his shots from the field, but MSU got very little from their supporting cast and Chris Allen who came up big on Friday, suffered through a 2-of-11 shooting day and ended with just five points.
"I'm trying to decide am I more disappointed with us or more impressed with the way they shot the ball," said Spartans head coach Tom Izzo after the game. "I just didn't think we played our -- our defense wasn't as good and that's been pretty good."
Michigan State had been holding teams to 25% shooting from three point range, but the Buckeyes shattered that, shooting 56% on Saturday.
"And our offense, we thought early we had some good shots and we didn't make them. And we missed a lot of free throws, missed a lot of shots. They made a lot of shots, [the] better
team won today," he said.
ANALYSIS: Michigan State might be better off not getting a top seed. In fact, MSU might be graded as the lowest of the group and sent out west. Instead, the Spartans would be an extremely dangerous #2 seed in a nearby region where the great East Lansing area fans could travel to support the Green-and-White.