Buckeyes Stage Furious Rally But Fall Short in OT
By Rob Ogden
Tuesday's game at Michigan State won't count as a win for the Buckeyes in the standings, but it almost felt like one.
No. 3 Ohio State erased a 17-point deficit in the final 7:06 to force overtime but fell to the No. 5 Spartans 72-68, dropping its first game of the season.
The Buckeyes (15-1, 2-1 Big Ten) outscored Michigan State 20-3 during that span to send the game to overtime and nearly pulled off what would have been a second remarkable comeback this season.
Sam Thompson, who finished with a team-high 18 points had 10 during the run and Amir Williams slammed home a rebound with 19 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the score at 58.
Minutes earlier, point guard Aaron Craft threw and inbound pass off Michigan State's Adreian Payne and laid the ball in to bring the Buckeyes within one.
Payne, who did not start the game because of a sprained foot, finished with 18 points and six rebounds.
Unlike the Buckeyes' previous comeback, recovering from a 9-point deficit in the final minute against Notre Dame last month, Ohio State did this one without the help of its top two scorers, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross.
The pair combined to shoot just 4-of-18 from the floor for 12 points and sat for the majority of the second half while Thompson and freshman Marc Loving stayed on the floor.
Loving finished with 10 points and attempted an off-balance three-pointer as time nearly expired in overtime, reminiscent of the desperation 3-pointer Shannon Scott attempted against the Spartans in East Lansing a year ago.
Ross and Smith's combined struggles led to a miserable first 30 minutes for the Buckeyes that was marred by turnovers and poor shooting.
Ohio State had an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers in all, and shot only 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half including 2-of-9 from 3-point range.
"We weren't as sharp as we needed to be in this caliber of a game to start the game," coach Thad Matta said. "You can't go on the road and have 21 turnovers. Shockingly we had shots to win the game. We're not a good enough basketball team to waste possessions like that."
Michigan State (14-1, 3-0), meanwhile, shot 57.9 percent from 3-point range including 3-for-3 in overtime.
But with Ross and Smith the on the bench, the Buckeyes' perimeter defense stepped up, as did its offense. Ohio State shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half, and the pair remained on the bench throughout the majority of overtime.
The Buckeyes got back into the game on the boards, and out rebounded the Spartans 42-28. Williams had 11 rebounds, but was no match for even an injured Payne down low.
Michigan State's Keith Appling had a game-high 20 points and Gary Harris added 13.
The two teams will meet again in Columbus for the regular-season finale March 9.
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