Ohio State closes its season series with Michigan State on Tuesday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Buckeyes (15-11, 5-8 Big Ten) defeated the Spartans (15-10, 7-5) in the first meeting, 72-67, in Columbus on Jan. 15.
In that game, freshman guard/forward Miles Bridges scored a game-high 24 points for MSU, shooting 9 of 12 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the three-point line.
“Bridges was as good as I’ve seen as a freshman that day,” said OSU head coach Thad Matta on Monday. “He was tremendous. We've got to do a better job of trying to slow him down.”
The man who will be tasked with trying to contain Bridges in game two of the series will be junior forward Jae’Sean Tate.
“Because I’m going to be guarding him, I can’t let him get comfortable from three,” Tate said of Bridges on Monday. “Once he sees a couple go in then he’s tough to guard. He had four or five last time, so just try to make him uncomfortable as we can from the perimeter because he has a lot of aspects to his game. Once he gets going he’s pretty hard to stop.”
From a team standpoint, Matta noted that the Spartans will try to thrive in transition offense, something the Buckeyes aspire to do as well.
“Michigan State is Michigan State,” Matta said. “They’re going to have a tremendous push in transition. They’re going to try to score as quick as they can. If it’s not there, they’re going to execute one, sometimes two, sets in a possession. Finishing with rebounding is something that is going to be very important.”
Michigan State held a 32-28 margin in rebounds for the first game between these two teams earlier this year. Bridges had nine of the Spartans' 32 boards.
As for the Spartans’ defense, Matta said MSU head coach Tom Izzo has tenacious group of defenders.
“I think Michigan State is as good as anybody in the Big Ten, defensively,” Matta said. “They’re going to make you earn everything you get in a game tomorrow night.”
East Lansing has not been a pleasant place for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is 17-40 all-time when playing games on the Michigan State campus. The last time the Buckeyes beat the Spartans at the Breslin Center was a 72-70 victory on March 4, 2012, earning a three-way tie with MSU and Michigan for the Big Ten regular-season championship.
“It’s a tough environment up there,” Tate said of the Spartans' venue. “I haven’t won up there before so trying to go in and get the ‘W’ there.”