The Buckeyes came out with energy Tuesday night, but if the other team shoots the lights out, there's not much you can do about it.
Ohio State needs some gigantic late-season wins if it wants to get in the NCAA tournament discussion, but it had no chance Tuesday as Michigan State shot 54.4 percent from the field, including 64.3 percent in the second half and a sterling 14-for-22 from 3-point range in a blowout 81-62 win in Columbus.
Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine shot tremendously for the Spartans. Forbes scored 27 points and went 7-for-10 from behind the 3-point line, and Valentine scored 17 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Matt Costello, who was chewed out by head coach Tom Izzo during a halftime TV interview, finished with 16 points.
Michigan State actually struggled to put much distance between itself and Ohio State in the first half. Despite the Buckeyes going ice cold from the field, going roughly six minutes without a made basket and hitting just one shot over the first half's final seven and a half minutes, the Spartans led by just five at the break. The shooting numbers were good for Michigan State (44.8 percent and 7-for-10 from 3), and they were bad for Ohio State (35.7 percent). But that didn't translate into a big Spartan lead.
That is until the second half, when the green and white got even hotter shooting the ball. After JaQuan Lyle's triple made it just a two-point game out of the half, Michigan State went on a 14-6 run to the first media timeout to build a double-digit lead. By the eight-minute mark, Forbes had hit five second-half triples and the Spartans' lead was 13. Forbes scored 20 of his 27 points over the final 20 minutes, including hitting six of his seven 3s. Costello scored 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the second half. The Michigan State advantage grew as big as 19 by game's end.
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The Spartans won the game by a mile thanks to that hot shooting, playing roughly even with the Buckeyes in most other statistical categories, though they did have a 16-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
Forbes, Valentine and Costello accounted for 60 of the Spartans' 81 points, with only five other players scoring and only two of those five scoring more than two points.
Ohio State finished shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and somewhat stunningly recorded just four assists on the night. The Buckeyes did shoot the ball tremendously from the free-throw line, going 19-for-21 from the charity stripe. Marc Loving finished with 19 points to lead Ohio State, and Lyle scored 16.
The win sent the Spartans to 23-5 overall and 10-5 in the conference, moving them ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State, now a winner of seven of its last eight games, next plays Penn State on Sunday.
The loss made a bad day for the Buckeyes even worse. Before the game, the team announced Jae'Sean Tate would miss the rest of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. This was the first of three games against top-10 opponents to end the regular season, and Ohio State needs wins now if it wants to be in the discussion for an NCAA tournament invite. The Buckeyes — 18-11 overall and 10-6 in the league — face No. 8 Iowa on Sunday before a rematch with these Spartans in East Lansing to finish the regular-season schedule.