ANALYSIS: Spartans got tough in overtime

MSU and Ohio State brought two huge scoring offenses into the game, and both decided to emulate the 'football' version of basketball that saw a few players get banged up on both sides in an exciting 62-59 two overtime thriller.

EAST LANSING - MSU played tough in the first half, holding OSU to 35% shooting, and they did a good job on Buckeye 3-point shooters, as OSU shot a mere three of 14 from 3-point land in the first stanza. However, OSU was equally as tough, as they held MSU to one of five behind the arc, and were getting back on defense to prevent MSU's potent transition offense.

Although MSU shot 50% in the first half, they struggled from 3-point early on, and could not generate a lot of points. Paul Davis normally strong in the second half, hit four of eight shots by halftime to stake MSU to a 29-25 lead at the break.

In the 2nd half the Spartans jumped out of the box with Trannon using his muscle for a bucket, followed by Shannon Brown going baseline in transition to give MSU a 33-25 lead, resulting in a timeout by OSU's Thad Matta.

After Paul Davis his a turn around jumper, things Spartans to unravel for the Spartan's big man. He missed his next three shots and had to be sat down with a couple of quick fouls, including a charge underneath the hoop.

Delco Rowley entered the game and blocked a shot, but momentum then shifted, as Jamar Butler and Matt Sylvester hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut MSU's lead to 37-35.

The game then went back and forth, with the Buckeyes getting open looks but missing, while the Bucks were doing a good job of shutting down Maurice Ager.

With the game tied at 42-42, Paul Davis remerged in a big way. He hit a jumper, and then a lay-up to give MSU a 46-42 lead, and in the same sequence blocked a shot on the other end of the floor.

MSU had a chance to put the game out of reach in regulation. Terrance Dials had a rebound slip through his hands with just over a minute to go in regulation with MSU holding a 46-44 lead.

However at this point, OSU decided to lock down the defense even more. Ager was double-teamed and forced to call a time out. (Ager had to leave the game at this point as he was poked in the eye.) Then, after another inbounds, Travis Walton was also double-teamed, and forced to call timeout once again. Shannon Brown then threw up an air ball.

Terrance Dials then used a smooth baby hook to knot the score at 46-46. Ager's desperation heave caught rim and nothing else, and we were on to the first overtime.

OSU won the tip in the first overtime, but Je'Kel Foster committed his fourth foul, and to add insult to injury, was hurt trying to go over the back of a Spartan player, falling violently to the floor. After a Davis travel in an indecisive 2nd half for Paul, Dials hit a lay-up to give OSU a 48-46 lead.

Shannon Brown then stole the inbounds pass and drove the length of the court for a runner in the lane to tie the score at 48-48. Brown then made another steal, and hammered a dunk down to give MSU a 50-48 lead, forcing Matta once again to call timeout.

Davis then rebounded an OSU miss, but Ager threw away a pass away with 36.3 seconds left. Trannon,who was all over the court today, forced an errant three-point shot, but Matt "Mr. Big Shot" Sylvester, snuck in the lane among the trees and grabbed a loose ball that slipped through the hands of Paul Davis. Slyvester flipped it in to knot the score once again at 48-48 with 10.6 seconds remaining.

Davis fired up a 3-point try that was nearly tipped in by both Trannon and Ager, but the tip rolled off the rim and we were off to overtime number two.

Once again, OSU won the tip in the 2nd overtime, but Davis blocked a OSU shot. Foster then fouled out for OSU, and that put OSU over the limit. Trannon hit one of two free throws to give MSU a 51-50 lead. Trannon then slammed a dunk home, and was inexplicably fouled by J.J. Sullinger. Trannon hit the free throw giving MSU a 3-point play and a 54-51 lead. (Trannon also left the game with a bloody nose on this play).

After an OSU bucket, Brown countered with a layup for MSU to give MSU a 56-53 lead. OSU missed a three, and a lay-up, but Davis committed a turnover to give OSU yet another chance. Once again, they turned to Matt Sylvester who drained the three to knot the score at 56-56.

Then Drew Neitzel, who had not scored a point until this point, hit a bank shot near the paint, and then hit two free throws after an OSU miss to give MSU a 60-56 lead with 17.1 seconds left.

MSU, which played off the ball, allowed the ball to come to nearly mid-court before the clocked started, and Shannon Brown was very relaxed in guarding Sylvester, who once again hit from long range to cut MSU's lead to 60-59.

OSU got the ball back, but had two misses, and Davis grabbed a tough rebound in the lane and was fouled. He hit both freebies to give MSU the final margin of 62-59.

Matt Trannon was dominate for MSU with fourteen points and eleven rebounds. He was scrappy on both ends of the floor. Paul Davis had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Shannon Brown had 20 points for MSU. Maurice Ager had just two points on 1 of 11 shooting as OSU keyed on him for much of the game. MSU shot 44% from the field but hit just 16% from downtown on 2 of 12 from behind the arc.

Terrance Dials had nineteen points and Matt Sylvester had 17 for the Bucks, who shot just 24% from 3-point land on 7 of 29 shooting. But they stayed tough on the offensive glass, out rebounding MSU here by a count of 14 to 7. MSU had the total rebounding edge however, at 44-39.

OSU's Matt Sylvester spoke about the Spartan's after the game, "They've been in a lot of games like that. They're very mentally and physically tough. I think it reflects on the character of Tom Izzo."

Things don't get any easier for the Spartans as the Iowa Hawkeyes will visit East Lansing on the 21st of January for a noon tip-off. Spartan basketball writer Kevin Mullen will have a full recap, opinion, and quotes tommorrow on this game between the Spartans and Ohio State. So stay tuned for his full analysis.

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