Looking Back: OSU-Michigan State

With Ohio State set to take on Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, BuckeyeSports.com looks back on the first game against the Spartans to examine what went right and what can be improved.

Ohio State doesn't have overly fond memories of its trip to East Lansing this season, and the Buckeyes will be out for revenge in Friday's matchup against Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

What follows is a look of the successes and failures of the Buckeyes in the first matchup, as well as a look at how the teams have fared since the first meeting on Feb. 14.

What Went Right

Scott’s Impact
Just as he did in the regular season against Minnesota, Shannon Scott had a big game against the Spartans at the Breslin Center. The senior point guard scored a team-high 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting and also notched five assists, five rebounds and two steals. It was also one of only two Big Ten games this season in which he didn’t commit a single foul.

Evenly Distributed Offense
Ohio State didn’t have one standout effort against the Spartans, but four players finished in double figures. In addition to Scott’s 15 points, D’Angelo Russell, Jae’Sean Tate and Sam Thompson all netted 10 points. Additionally, Amir Williams finished with eight points. Kam Williams said last night that OSU’s offense works best when there’s more scoring options out there than just Russell doing is thing, and the Buckeyes were able to succeed in that area for the most part against MSU.

Transition Defense
Ohio State dug itself into a hole in the first half and entered the locker room at halftime trailing by nine points. Part of that deficit stemmed from the 10 transition points the Buckeyes allowed in opening 20 minutes. They cleaned that up in the second half and didn’t allow a point in transition the rest of the game, which is one of the reasons the Buckeyes were able to erase MSU’s lead and get back into the game.

What Went Wrong

Preventing Game-Winning Shots
Well, let’s start with the obvious. Giving up the game-winning shot with four seconds left is never ideal, especially when it comes from a guy named Valentine on Feb. 14. It was a play well executed by Michigan State, as Sam Thompson got caught on a screen and no other Buckeye managed to pick up the guy who sunk five three-pointers and led the game in scoring.

Russell’s Scoring
Russell did manage to get to double digits, but it took him 13 shots to score 10 points, which isn’t exactly the most efficient performance out there. It was his lowest output in Big Ten play and second-lowest scoring total of the season. This will be the first time he’s played back-to-back days in his college career, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to that.

Free-throw shooting
This has been a bit of a broken record in Ohio State’s losses this season, but the Buckeyes didn’t get it done at the free-throw line, finishing just 5 of 13. They were consistently bad, shooting 2 for 5 (40 percent) in the first half and 3 for 8 (37.5 percent) in the second half. Thompson (1 for 4) and Russell (0 for 2) were the main culprits. It’s never a good sign when there’s a 10-percent difference between your shooting percentages from behind the arc and at the free-throw line.

Since They Last Met
That win was the second in a four-game winning streak for the Spartans, who charged their way up to the No. 3 spot in the Big Ten standings. Since facing the Buckeyes, Michigan State has beaten Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue and lost to Minnesota and Wisconsin. This will be the Spartans’ first game of the Big Ten Tournament after earning a double-bye.

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