CHICAGO — No one expected Michigan State basketball’s hot-shooting, high-scoring end to the regular season. Especially not Tom Izzo.
And it has evaporated. As did Ohio State — in its third game in three days at the United Center — it made nearly every appearance.
The Buckeyes followed suit. And going. And the Spartans go home early.
Fueled by adrenaline and wanting to win it all or see a disappointing season come to an end, 13th-ranked Ohio State hit 10 3-pointers while fourth-ranked MSU struggled to find any run in a 68-58 loss Friday afternoon.
The Spartans (19-12), who scored 80 points in four straight games to end the regular season, shot just 3 of 16 from 3-point range. They struggled to move the ball with just 11 assists and now have to wait until Sunday evening to find out their NCAA tournament destination and seed.
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The Buckeyes (16-18) — without star freshman Bryce Senzabaugh (knee) — advance to play top-seeded and No. 3 Purdue on Saturday at noon at the United Center (CBS). Bruce Thornton had 21 points, Roddy Gayle Jr. had 15 points, and senior Judge Chuying had 14 points.
OSU shot 52.6% from deep to sweep the regular-season series after making 7 of 15 3-pointers in the second half of MSU’s 84-78 home win Saturday in East Lansing. The Buckeyes went 21 for 34 in those last two games.
The Spartans held OSU to 6 of 29 on 3-point attempts in the first meeting on Feb. 12 in Columbus, Ohio, a 62-41 MSU win.
Four Spartans reached double figures, led by Joey Houser’s 15 points and six rebounds. AJ Hogarth, Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins each scored 10 as MSU shot 38.2% overall.
Back to useless
The Spartans continued their hot shooting streak from the previous month Friday, starting 4 of 6 in the first 4:17 and including a 7-0 run. All those buckets came after assists.
Then the ball stopped moving and their shots stopped falling.
MSU went 5 for 23 in the final 15-plus minutes. Houser’s 3-pointer at 16:35 was the only half in the half and the Spartans missed their final seven, going 1-for-9 in the half with Houser hitting at the buzzer. The Spartans had just two assists after the split.
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Meanwhile, the Buckeyes couldn’t afford to miss. Chuing drilled a pair of 3-pointers and Sean McNeil another as OSU led 15-6 entering the half. Then came another 13-4 run that pushed the Buckeyes’ lead back to double digits, and Kyle’s 3-pointer made it 11 with 2:29 left before Walker’s layup cut MSU’s halftime deficit to 33-24.
Feb. It was reminiscent of the Spartans’ first-half struggles at Nebraska on 28, where they scored 27.8 points in the first half. On Friday, MSU shot just 31% overall to OSU’s 51.9% shooting. Houser had seven points in the half, four of which came at the free-throw line, while Walker and Maddie Sissoko each had six. Hogarth and Akins combined to go 1-for-9.
The Buckeyes hit 5 of 9 3-pointers in the opening half. Thornton and Xuing each had eight and combined for five of OSU’s nine assists in half.
Recovery is not enough
The shots started falling for MSU after the half, first a Hauser jumper in the paint and then a Walker 3-pointer. Confidence reignited, an Akins jumper and a Hoggard driving layup pulled the Spartans to within 36-34 with 4 ½ minutes left in the final period.
But the Buckeyes responded by starting the MSU salvo with a 10-2 counter run to push the lead back to double digits. And Ohio State hit big 3s when they needed them, with Gayle and Chewing both draining a pair from deep as the Buckeyes went 5 of 10 from behind the arc in the final period.
The Spartans made one final surge, getting within six with 4:54 to play on Hoggard’s driving layup. But Kaylin’s 3-pointer with 3:14 to play was part of a knockout run that pushed it to 14 points in the final few minutes.
Contact Chris Solari: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @crissolari.
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