Michigan State has won three in a row and two straight against top-five opponents after taking down No. 4 Ohio State 71-68 on Thursday night in East Lansing.
Ohio State missed seven straight shots in the last five minutes of the game as Michigan State imposed its will on defense and Aaron Henry took control of the game offensively. While the Buckeyes were struggling offensively, the Spartans played their best basketball of the half and came up big on shot after shot even on well-defended possessions.
Henry finished the game with a team-high 18 points, with four rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. He was tasked with guarding Ohio State star forward E.J. Liddell and serving as the point guard in late-game lineups. Michigan State ran everything through Henry and rode his success to winning a game that had been, for long stretches, dominated by the Buckeyes.
There was plenty of frustration on the Ohio State sidelines with physical play down low that contributed to those empty offensive possessions. Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann received one technical foul early in the second half for arguing a missed call and when contact was drawn on the team’s last shot at tying the game, he used the opportunity to make his points again to the officials en route to receiving a second technical foul and getting tossed from the game.
The quality win for Michigan State will keep its hopes alive for getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
For Ohio State, the loss follows the defeat against Michigan last weekend in another game where the Buckeyes had their chances late and could not convert. Up next is Iowa on Sunday, with the Hawkeyes rolling into Columbus off the lop-sided loss to Michigan on Thursday night.