MSU accelerates past Ohio State 78-67 in a 60-possession game. Statsheet box score.
This was, of course, a tale of two halves.
The tale of the first half was Durrell Summers single-handedly keeping the team afloat, scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points as the rest of the team struggled with turnovers and 3-point shooting against the Ohio State 3-2 zone. Even with Summers’ hot hand, I think many of us were right on the verge of abandoning hope, with nightmarish visions of every Big Ten team from here on out playing a zone defense against us for the next two months.
(Note: It occurred to me during the game that we’ve talked very little about missing Drew Neitzel this season. But we may have forgotten what a big factor his shooting/passing prowess was when teams zoned us up.)
The tale of the second half was as dominant a performance as you could possibly hope for in a Big Ten road game. MSU outscored Ohio State 52-36, led by Kalin Lucas’ 20 points, all of which came after the break. (Note: I trust Lucas will correct whatever academic issues led to his benching to start the game; his absence from the court for the first six minutes could have resulted in an even larger hole that MSU wouldn’t have overcome.)
Put it all together and you get this:
Rebounding was the only constant. MSU actually held the Buckeyes without a single offensive rebound in the first half. For the game, MSU put up yet another 50% offensive rebounding percentage figure. Rebounding is to basketball what base running is to baseball: It doesn’t go away when you’re in a shooting/hitting slump. Today, it led to 15 more field goal attempts for MSU than for Ohio State.
Goran Suton led the way with 9 rebounds, 5 of them offensively. Durrell Summers chipped in 3 offensive board to go with his career-high 26 points (on 6-9 three-point shooting).
Kalin Lucas was simply masterful in the second half, making five two-point shots–nearly all of them of the spectacular nature–and scoring seven points from the line.
Defensively, this wasn’t a great game for our Spartans. Ohio State scored over 1.10 points per possession. Evan Turner (19 points on 6-8 FG shooting), Jon Dielber (12 on 3-6 three-point shooting), William Buford (11 on 3-7 three-point shooting), and B.J. Mullens (12 on 5-9 FG shooting) all got more good looks at the basket than they should have.
But the defense held when it needed to, limiting Ohio State to just one field goal during a five-minute stretch starting at the 12-minute mark of the second half. MSU, meanwhile, scored 30 point over the game’s final 12 minutes. The difference in the two teams’ point-guard situations was evident late in the game.
Kudos to Suton, in particular, for his savvy defense on Mullens, who Roe, Ibok, and Gray had all been unable to guard.
And, remarkably, Ohio State actually ended up turning the ball over one more time than we did for the full game.
I’d guess many of the news stories about this game will talk about MSU “growing up” or “getting tougher” today. But let’s keep in mind this team is now 4-0 on the road in conference play; that’s more conference road wins than they accumulated in nine attempts last season.
This team was already tough. Wednesday night didn’t change that.
Next up: Another road game–this one at the scene of last year’s greatest tragedy, Iowa City. Thursday night, 7:00, ESPN/ESPN2 (still hasn’t been finalized, apparently).
P.S. There’s a lot of sentiment out there for basically benching Chris Allen in favor of Summers. I agree Summers should now clearly be the first perimeter guy off the bench. But Allen will need to be a factor at some point. Shooting strokes do come back, and Izzo depth cannot be abandoned.
That being said, the road back for Allen looks pretty long. He was pump faking and dribbling into double teams today in situations in which he normally would have shot the ball.