Coach Izzo ripped into his team during his halftime interview, despite holding a five-point advantage. He questioned the effort and leadership of his seniors in particular, and they responded.
The red-hot Buckeyes were dealt a crushing blow even before the opening tip. Star guard Jae’Sean Tate was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Tate averaged 11.7 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field. Without him, the Ohio State offense sputtered.
By halftime, the game had the makings of yet another instant classic between Thad Matta and Tom Izzo. Coming into Tuesday’s affair, seven of the last nine games were decided by four points or less.
Michigan State couldn’t pull away and Ohio State couldn’t make any runs. Then the threes started falling for MSU. Forbes hit six of his seven in the second frame and helped Sparty make their final run to bury the Buckeyes. OSU was just 5-14 from three-point range, compared to 14-22 for MSU. Not many teams can be outplayed on the perimeter that much and expect to win.
Valentine turned in a “pedestrian” performance by his standards, “only” putting up 17 points to go along with eight assists and five rebounds. Just another ho-hum night for the Player of the Year candidate. Costello turned in 16 points, missing just one shot and grabbing six rebounds. Whatever Coach Izzo said to him at halftime certainly did the trick.
Sophomore forward Marvin Clark Jr. finally got his rhythm back, hitting a pair of long guns in the first half and restoring his confidence. Clark is getting his chance to shine after Kenny Goins was sidelined with a knee injury and brings a pick-and-pop element that Goins lacked.
This game was especially important for Ohio State, which was on the wrong side of the bubble coming into the matchup. The Buckeyes had an RPI of 73 and had only one RPI Top 50 win. Not the type of resume that screams tournament team.
With the win, MSU moves into sole possession of that key No. 4 spot in the Big Ten, which would give them a double bye in the conference tournament. The Spartans are just two games back of first place Indiana, and with a soft remaining schedule could have a chance at a share of the regular season title.
Up next for MSU is a date with lowly Penn State. The Nittany Lions own the No. 11 spot in the Big Ten, but recently played the role of spoiler to Indiana and Iowa. Tip-off is scheduled for noon at the Breslin Center, and the game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
Originally posted: http://impact89fm.org/sports/forbes-spartans-shoot-down-buckeyes/