Observations: Buckeyes Drop Close Game Again

Ohio State couldn't get over the hump against Michigan State.

As they did in a close loss to Purdue, Ohio State couldn't finish off Michigan State, falling by three on the road.

While the Buckeyes didn't get out of East Lansing with a win, there was plenty to take away from the loss that Denzel Valentine handed them with his last-second three.

  • Wordplay: OK, elephant in the room, Valentine made the biggest play of the game on Valentine's Day. Headline writers rejoiced as the shot went in and I just felt I had to mention it. Alright, moving on.

  • Breslin Center Fantastic: While my internet was not working for much of the game, everything else about the Breslin Center was fantastic. It's a building beautifully designed for college basketball and the fans were active and involved throughout the game. Tom Izzo opened his postgame remarks with comments about the environment and said the crowd had a "monstrous" impact on the game. I'd tend to agree. The whole environemnt was fantastic and just made me wish that Ohio State didn't play in the cavernous concert venue that is Value City Arena.

  • Buckeyes Still Loving-less: Marc Loving returned to action against the Spartans after a three-game suspension, but you hardly would have known it. The forward played just five minutes and didn't sore. It wasn't, as I would have thought, because Keita Bates-Diop played in his place as the freshman also got just five minutes. Thad Matta rode the starting lineup of Amir Williams, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, D'Angelo Russell and Jae'sean Tate down the stretch and Loving was a non-factor. The coach said it wasn't a matter of Loving being rusty, which he shouldn't be as he has been practicing with the team throughout his suspension. It didn't help that Ohio State never played their small-ball lineup, something that I thought could have worked for stretches against the Spartans.

    "Those guys had a pretty good feel for what was going on," Matta said simply of his crunch-time lineup.

  • Classic OSU-MUS: Matta joked that a classic channel could be created that just aired Ohio State-Michigan State games. I don't think he's wrong. Seven of the last eight games between the teams have been decided by four or fewer points and each squad has four wins in that stretch.

  • Scott's Best Game: Shannon Scott played his best game of the season and maybe the best game he's had in four years in an Ohio State uniform. He finished with 15 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, and was incredibly active on the offensive end. With the Spartans doing everything they could to take Russell out of the game, Scott stepped up like a senior is supposed to in a tough road environment. He shot the ball well, connecting on 5-of-11 shots and two of his four three-point attempts. It was nice to see for a player who has received a healthy bit of criticism, even if it did come in a loss.

  • Thad Loves Dawson: When asked about Brandon Dawson, the Michigan State forward who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, it became immediately clear that Matta is a big fan of the senior. Apparently, Dawson has faced some criticism this year, which Matta did not appreciate.

    “My question is who in their right mind, with a brain, criticizes Branden Dawson? You’ve got to be a moron to criticize that kid," Matta said. "You don’t even know anything about basketball if you criticize Branden Dawson. I think what he’s done in his career for Michigan State, I think of all the great players I’ve coached against, I think he’s one."

  • Buckeyes Still In Big Ten Race: This loss hurts, for sure, but the Buckeyes aren't in a terrible position in the league even with five losses. If Ohio State can win out until their end-of-season game against Wisconsin, they will likely still be in a tie for second and as their schedule is one of the easiest of the teams in contention, that seems likely. Plus, the Badgers will have the league crown sown up by the time they come to Columbus and the Buckeyes have been good at home this season. Don't give up on a second-place finish yet, Buckeye fans

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