Buckeyes edge Spartans
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Tom Izzo wasn’t happy with the officials, with his team — with anything.
No. 22 Michigan State went scoreless over the last 4:30 and Ohio State scored the final four points to tag the Spartans with a troublesome 69-67 loss on Sunday night.
"We’re a little wimpier than we used to be," Izzo said of his team, known for being bruisers on the boards and elsewhere. "If any of you think this is the old smash-mouth Michigan State team, you’re kidding yourself. We’re not that team. We haven’t been that team for a while."
It was the Spartans’ seventh loss in their last 11 games.
"It’s just unacceptable how we turned the ball over," guard Gary Harris said of his team’s 16 miscues that led to 21 Ohio State points.
Adreian Payne scored 23 points but missed a big 3-point attempt with 27 seconds left. Harris had 12 but misfired on a jumper with 2 seconds left that would have tied it. Denzel Valentine added 11 but had just three points after halftime because of foul trouble.
Izzo was unhappy with the way the game was called. The Buckeyes were 19 of 31 at the line, compared to 9 for 10 for the Spartans. Michigan State was called for 22 personal fouls to 12 against the Buckeyes.
After a season in which the Spartans have fought off injuries continually, they were finally at full strength. At least, they were until Branden Dawson and Valentine picked up their third fouls early in the second half and had to sit down.
Harris, Valentine and Keith Appling each finished with four fouls.
"I really got my team back but I really didn’t get my team back because none of them were out there," Izzo said.
The Spartans (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten) had the ball with the game tied at 67, but Payne lost it to Aaron Craft with just over a minute left.
Shannon Scott’s 14-foot jumper went in and out, but Ohio State’s Amir Williams — a Michigan native — was fouled on the rebound. The junior, a target for Buckeyes fans who are critical of what they believe is his lethargic play, hit the second of two free throws with 37.2 seconds remaining.
Izzo called a timeout but it was the Buckeyes who designed a better play.
"We drew the play that they ran against Wisconsin; we actually went through it at shootaround today," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "It was like, `Chances are, fellas, they might try to run this again.’"
With Williams stuck inside on a screen, athletic Sam Thompson took two quick steps to close quickly, applying pressure to the 6-foot-10 Payne on a 3-pointer.
"I had to adjust my shot in the air and it came up short," said Payne, an Ohio native who played AAU ball on the same team with Craft and former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.
With the ball bounding loose, Craft went to the floor to control it like a defensive back pouncing on a fumble. The senior was tied up on the play, but the possession arrow favored the Buckeyes with 24.8 seconds remaining.
Craft was then fouled and hit the second with 20.9 seconds left.
Harris ended up with the ball in the closing seconds, dribbling end to end but his off-balance attempt with 2 seconds left was off. Payne crashed the boards but Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State’s only other senior, tipped the ball away just before the buzzer sounded.
Both Ohio State and Michigan State are headed for the Big Ten tournament this week, then will move on to the NCAA tourney.
But Izzo didn’t sound as if any answers were close at hand.
"I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: It’s a shame what’s happened to this team," he said. "It’s not all their fault. It’s a very good team that is nowhere near the team we were earlier in the year."