Things were looking pretty good for the No. 22 MSU Basketball team Sunday afternoon, especially when Keith Appling connected on an alley-oop with teammate Adreian Payne to put the Spartans up five over the Ohio State Buckeyes, 65-60, with 6:58 to go in the game.
The alley-oop gave Payne a game-high 23 points for the afternoon, but over the course of those next six minutes and 58 seconds, those same No. 22 Spartans (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten) put on a clinic on how to lose a basketball game, which they eventually did, falling to the Ohio State Buckeyes (23-8, 10-8) by a score of 69-67.
Mainly though, the loss for MSU can all be chalked up to one thing: turnovers.
Five of them happened over the final stretch of the game, the first two of which resulting in five points off turnovers for the Buckeyes, allowing them to tie the game up at 65 a piece with 5:14 to go.
And while Branden Dawson countered with a bucket to put the Spartans up by two, 67-65 with 4:31 to play, this would prove to be the last time Michigan State would score.
Immediately following Dawson’s bucket, Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross, who finished with a team-high 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting, hit a shot on the other end to knot things up at 67 a piece with 3:48 left.
And after the game-tying Ross Bucket, Michigan State would go on to turn the ball over on three of their next four possessions, and would finish with 16 turnovers on the afternoon.
For the next three minutes of the game, things continued to stay tied, but in the final minute of the game, after being fouled on the inside by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Ohio State’s Amir Williams split a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left to put the Buckeyes up one, 68-67.
However, after going up by one, Ohio State attempted their own impersonation on how to lose a basketball game, as they went just 2 of 6 from the free throw line down the stretch.
And when Ohio State’s Sam Thompson missed a pair of free throws with Ohio State up two, 69-67, with six seconds remaining, Michigan State still had a chance.
Unfortunately for Spartans though, Gary Harris, guarded by Aaron Craft, missed a 17-footer on the other end that would have tied things up and sent the game to overtime, as the Spartans dropped their seventh straight weekend game.
For Michigan State, the loss means they drop to 12-6 in conference play, solidifying a 3rd place finish in the Big Ten. However, as one of the top four finishers in the Big Ten, they’ll still have first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend and will take on the winner of the 6 vs. 11 match up.