The score was 36-27 and the Michigan State Spartans were feeling good about their lead in Columbus. They were beating Ohio State on their home floor and looked to make it two straight seasons in which the Spartans marched into town and stole a road win.
However, that was not the case on Sunday. The Buckeyes took the early beating by the Spartans personally and went on a 24-5 run, effectively ending the Spartans road win hopes. The score was then 51-41 and halfway through the second half, Tom Izzo was scratching his head, looking for answers.
Sure, the Spartans made a late run to make it a two-point game late, but some poor free throw shooting from Michigan State and solid free throw shooting from Aaron Craft ensured a Buckeye win, 68-60.
What went wrong? During the 24-5 stretch, Michigan State shot poorly and couldn’t defend Craft or the perimeter. It all started with what looked like the Spartans chance to pull away. The Spartans were up 36-27 and the Buckeyes missed a shot, instead of the Spartans getting a rebound and creating a fast break, the ball was tipped out to Deshaun Thomas who then made a three-pointer.
It was a tough break, but still, things looked as if they were going MSU’s way.
A quick 17 points scored in the early minutes of the second half took life away from Michigan State and they never recovered.
Should the Spartans be worried? No. In fact, every team goes through rough patches and Michigan State is just another one of those teams, losing two straight games.
Michigan State looked great for the first 22 minutes of the game and then delivered a half-winded performance. It could have been the type of games that the Spartans played that finally got the best of them, playing three ranked teams in a four-game span.
Ever since the beatdown of in-state rival Michigan, players like Keith Appling and Branden Dawson seem to be struggling. This slump actually serves as a good thing, showing that there is a reason why MSU is slumping.
You might be saying, how can it possibly be a good thing that two of the best players are struggling? Well, the fact that two of the best players that combine for 24 points a game are only producing just 12.5 points in the past two games while also averaging six turnovers per game between the two.
Should the Spartans be worried? No, because when Appling and Dawson are on top of their game, they are as unbeatable as any team in the country.
Tom Izzo also knows the dynamic of his team more than any of the country, so he knows what it will take to get back on track come March.
He’s not called Mr. March for nothing, folks. Watch out for the Michigan State Spartans come tournament time.