After their worst loss in over 50 years, No.11 Michigan State responded with exactly what the doctor ordered, beating Ohio State on Tuesday night 66-60 in front of a home crowd.
There was no better way to silence talk about a disappointing loss to 7-9 Iowa over the weekend than to jump out early, and that's what the Spartans (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) did.
"We just wanted to come out and show that it was a fluke and nothing really went our way against Iowa," said Drew Neitzel, who along with Kalin Lucas led MSU with 13 points each. "We wanted to get back to how we are capable of playing and we did it early and it carried us the rest of the way."
MSU scored early and often behind hot shooting from Neitzel and virtually every player wearing green and white.
"I think all around some guys made some big plays, (Drew) Naymick had some 15-footers, Kalin (Lucas) and Drew (Neitzel) came out big and I think everyone had their moments and that's what will makes us a good team," said Goran Suton.
The Buckeyes (12-5, 3-2 Big Ten) on the other hand, started the game shooting 1-for-9 from the field in the first six minutes, and found themselves quickly trailing by double-digits, 25-7.
After a poor shooting night against the Hawkeyes and managing only 36 points, MSU's shooting came back strong.
"We just had to bounce back and this was a good game to bounce back," said Suton. "There is still a lot of work to do, when we have a team down we need to keep them down and not let them back into it."
No Spartan player scored in double-figures in the first half, showing just how balanced their attack was.
Neitzel led the way with eight points on 2-of-5 from three-point range.
Chris Allen made two three's for six points while Marquise Gray, Drew Naymick and Kalin Lucas each had five points. MSU led at halftime 34-21.
But the Buckeyes would not go away in the second half, as the Spartans got sloppy at times and leading scorer Raymar Morgan got into foul trouble. Morgan would spend much of the second half on the bench and finished with just six points.
"This was a big win over a quality team," said Coach Tom Izzo. "We played so well early and it hurts us that when they went small, we just didn't have Raymar (Morgan) in there to counter that."
Jamar Butler opened the second half with a quick three-pointer, sparking a 13-3 Buckeye run. Ohio State was within 37-34.
But three points is as close as the Buckeyes would get, as a pair of baskets each by Suton and Lucas would increase the lead.
The Spartans were poised not to give this game away and finish strong, showing it through their clutch shooting. Although they shot 38 percent from the field, their baskets were timely, many times stopping the streaky Buckeyes offense.
After a pair of Matt Terwilliger three-pointers brought the game within four, Morgan and Suton answered back with layups.
When David Lighty and Othello Hunter's baskets inched the Buckeyes back within 49-45, Lucas answered right back with a three.
"We got a lot of big plays out of some guys," said Izzo. "(Goran) Suton had a couple of big rebound buckets, (Drew) Naymick had some big shots, I thought Kalin Lucas played very well, and it was a total team effort, it seemed like everybody added something tonight."
"We kept bouncing back and it is big, because they almost put us down and I thought we had a couple of big shots a couple of big plays and I think we'll be able to grow from that," added Izzo.
Despite only playing 19 minutes, Morgan put the exclamation point on the game with 3:09 to play in the game.
With MSU leading 59-53, Morgan drove inside and made a tough layup while being fouled. He completed the three-point play with a free-throw and the Spartan lead was back up to nine.
If better shooting and great team effort weren't enough, the Spartans even cut down on their turnovers, which have been a serious problem this season.
MSU turned the ball over seven times in the first half and only four in the second, as their 11 total turnovers were an improvement from their 18 per game since Big Ten play began.
Another stat Izzo pointed to after the game was the rebounding, as his team out-rebounded the Buckeyes 46-31, including a dominant 20-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
"That is one thing you can do better against the zone, offensive rebounding and I thought we did a great job of that tonight," said Izzo.
Senior Drew Naymick had his best game of the season as well, scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Naymick made several jump shots from the top of the key, surprising Ohio State coach Thad Matta that MSU's big men were so high on the point.
"Drew Naymick hit those shots in the high post," said Matta. "They do a good job with their movement. They put their guard down on the baseline and therefore stretched us where we couldn't guard the ball."
"He did a good job of knocking those down," added Matta.
Next up will be another road test as they travel to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. They will look to play better on the road against a Gophers squad that played them very well last week at the Breslin Center.
Fast Start; Big Shots Help MSU Bounce Back
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