Cleaning The Glass: MSU Tourney Edition

In a win that showed Ohio State playing arguably its best basketball of the season, the Buckeyes knocked off No. 1 seed Michigan State for the right to advance to the Big Ten tournament title game. Men's basketball beat writer Adam Jardy offers his take on the win and the team going forwad.

INDIANAPOLIS – I think … that no matter what the stat sheet might say, Ohio State beat Michigan State thanks to the play of Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens in the paint.

The stats don't back this up. Goran Suton was 5 for 5 from the floor for 10 points and eight rebounds, while Raymar Morgan had six points on 3 of 8 shooting. The two combined for three assists and five turnovers – not great, but not terrible either.

What I see on the stat sheet is the fact that players such as Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious and Chris Allen were a combined 12 for 35 from the floor. When the Spartans would get the ball down low, it seemed that either Lauderdale or Mullens – or Evan Turner, for that matter – would body them up and make it tough to score.

The end result would be a kick out to the wing, where a MSU guard was ready to miss a shot attempt. The majority of the Spartans' post points came thanks to offensive rebounds they converted and a few nifty post moves that had some success against the Buckeyes.

There is no stat that shows how often a big guy bodies up on another one and forces him to kick it outside. At least, the notes I take aren't that intricately detailed. But I know that when I looked back on the OSU win, I first credited Lauderdale and then Mullens for controlling things down low.

I think … that Jeremie Simmons is finding his stroke again and in the nick of time. It's no secret that the junior point guard has struggled down the stretch, and his 10 points in the last three regular-season games are proof of that fact.

Friday against Wisconsin, Simmons added a quick 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting – just his second double-digit scoring effort in an eight-game stretch. He followed that up by contributing eight points in the win against the Spartans.

Those sort of contributions are immensely beneficial in tournament play, and doubly so when your leading scorer does not have a point in the first half of play. Simmons looks more relaxed on the court, and that gives the Buckeyes one more dangerous weapon other teams now have to contend with.

He is one part of a growing number of players who are suddenly starting to play their best basketball of the season. I don't want to read too much into two consecutive games, but the Buckeyes are rapidly becoming a team I'm not sure I'd want to face with my season on the line.

I think … that William Buford again has to be applauded for his effort on the glass. He finished with nine boards, one behind Turner's total for the game high.

After the game, he told me the coaches had challenged him recently to attack the glass more and he admitted that he had not done so for the majority of the season. He is putting it together now, however, and that is a big help.

I think … I still have no idea how Lauderdale finished with just one rebound against MSU.

I think … that although this was the biggest win of the season for the Buckeyes, it comes with the caveat that the Spartans could not throw the ball in the ocean if they needed to.

MSU took 71 shots from the floor and converted on 27 of them. That obliterates the record for shots attempted against them in a game this year, set when Bowling Green attempted 59 field goals in the second game of the season.

The Spartans entered the game shooting 45.8 percent from the field for the season. By my calculations, had they connected on that many shots against the Buckeyes, they would have won.

Credit to the Buckeyes for taking advantage of a cold shooting night by the Spartans.

I think … this win is good enough to boost the Buckeyes up at least one seed in the NCAA Tournament and perhaps two. Most predictions had them as an eight or nine seed, with the unenviable task of playing a No. 1 seed in the second round, entering the game against MSU.

Instead, I think they might be looking at a seven seed unless they get blown out by Purdue.


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