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Just Not Good Enough
By John Porentas

Remember when you were a kid and used to say "Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades" after you had just narrowly beat somebody at something? 

The Buckeyes had some moments when they were close in East Lansing. Unfortunately for them they were playing basketball, not horse shoes or hand grenades. The bottom line was another loss in a game they had their chances to win despite serious foul problems, but just couldn't make key plays at critical junctures to get over the hump.

The Buckeyes (15-12, 5-9) withstood murderously effective three-point shooting by Michigan State (10-25 for 40 percent), particularly in the first half when guard Alvin Ellis III came off the bench to knock down five threes in a row, but couldn't play over foul problems that kept key players on the bench for extended periods of time. Starting forward Jae'Sean Tate logged just 22 minutes while center Trevor Thompson was on the floor just 22 minutes before eventually fouling out.

Despite the foul woes and bombardment of threes by MSU (16-10, 8-5) the Buckeyes were able to remain close for most the game. They survived Ellis' early outburst of three pointers in the first half and after going down by nine points at 23-14 rallied to actually take a one point lead at 24-23. They couldn't maintain the momentum though and ended up going to the half down six at 40-24. 

Considering the foul situation that kept Thompson and Tate off the floor much of the first half the small deficit was almost a moral victory, but when play resumed in the second half they immediately gave up a 6-0 run with Tate and Thompson on the floor to fall behind by 12. 

Once again the Buckeyes rallied and pulled to within one at 52-51, but that was as close as they would get. Despite getting the benefit of a series of calls that turned the ball over to them they simply could not take advantage at the offensive end after the MSU mistakes. They either missed easy shots or made their own turnovers and couldn't capitalize on the sloppy play by the Spartans. 

"We had some opportunities," said Thad Matta in his postgame radio remarks.

"We couldn't make the play when we needed to make the play."

"We've got to find a way to knock that shot down, get that rebound when we need it. We didn't do that when we needed to."

The Spartans eventually cleaned up their act and opened up a 12 point lead with just over three minutes left in the game.  OSU never got closer than seven points the rest of the way despite some missed free throws by the Spartans down the stretch. 

Senor Marc Loving led OSU with 22 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field. JaQuan Lyle, who returned to action after missing a game due to a serious illness in his family, was the only other Buckeye two score in double figures with 10 points off the bench.

For the game OSU 25 of 60 from the field for 42 percent. 

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