There has been numerous occasions this season where Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has been quoted saying that the Ohio State Buckeyes are “the best team in the Big Ten,” but with a 68-64 win in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament, Izzo has to be rethinking his statement.
The Spartans and Buckeyes split the two regular season match-ups this year, and the last meeting was a 72-70 win for Ohio State that gave them a share of the Big Ten regular season title. After the loss, when referring to the Big Ten Tournament, Tom Izzo said, “We’re gonna go win our championship back.”
With this being the Spartans first tournament title since 2000, what better way to do it than a win over the team that took a share of the title from you?
Michigan State was led by senior guard Brandon Wood who had his best game as a Spartan since transferring from Valparaiso this summer. Wood shot 57 percent from the field, including 4 of 8 from downtown, and finished the game with a season-high 21 points.
With 14:06 left in the second half, Michigan State found themselves down 52-45 after a made three pointer by Deshaun Thomas. The momentum was completely in favor of OSU at this point.
The next possession for MSU may have been one of the more important possessions for the Spartans all game, as Brandon Wood caught the ball on the left-wing, drove to the lane, and found Derrick Nix wide-open for a dunk. Even though the Spartans still found themselves down by five, this possession simmered down the Buckeyes, and gave momentum back to Michigan State.
MSU followed that possession with two consecutive three pointers from Brandon Wood, which gave the Spartans a one point lead.
Senior Brandon Wood led the way for Michigan State with a season-high 21 points.
Wood’s amazing shooting performance picked up the slack for Big Ten Player of the Year, Draymond Green, who only had one field goal in the second-half. While Green struggled shooting the ball in the final 20 minutes, he hit the most important shot for the Spartans when it mattered most.
The Spartans were up 64-62 with 1:36 left in the game when Draymond Green knocked down a three pointer to seal the deal for Michigan State and put them up by seven.
Green was one rebound short of his third double-double in this year’s Big Ten Tournament, as he finished the game with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
The Buckeyes were denied their third consecutive tournament title, as the bench was non-existent for the whole game.
The OSU bench was outscored by the Spartans bench 17-4.
Nobody on the Buckeyes bench played 10 minutes, and that ended up hurting the Buckeyes, as they only scored one field goal in the final three minutes.
All five Ohio State starters scored in double-digits, led by sophomore Jared Sullinger who had 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Dehsaun Thomas and William Buford both played the full game for the Buckeyes, and they both shot 4 of 12 from the field with 11 points.
Even though Jared Sullinger managed to get it together in the second-half for the Buckeyes, he still struggled for the majority of the game as he did in the previous two match-ups.
Sullinger shot about 37 percent from the field, and found himself in foul trouble early, as he sat on the bench on the bench for the majority of the final 10 minutes of the first-half with two fouls.
Sullinger picked-up his play to start the second-half, as he scored seven points in the first four minutes.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Sullinger was not able to produce much offensively in the final 10 minutes of the game, as he only had one field goal during that span.
Michigan State did an amazing job all season of shutting down Jared Sullinger and not allowing him to takeover a game. Spartan big men Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix have done a great job of making him uncomfortable and forcing him to take tough shots.
With this win Michigan State earned a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and will be atop of the West region of the bracket. The Spartans have won three in a row heading into the tournament, and two of those wins have come against top 15 teams.
Last time Michigan State won the Big Ten Tournament was in 2000, and they also won the NCAA Championship the same year. Hopefully for Tom Izzo’s ball club, and the rest of Spartan Nation, Michigan State can duplicate their results, and hang another National Championship banner at the top of the Breslin when this season is put to an end.
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