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Buckeyes Break Through in Big Ten with Win over Spartans
By John Porentas

COLUMBUS, OH - It was getting to be desperation time for the Buckeyes. 

An 0-4 start in Big Ten play had the Buckeyes reeling and the fan base mutinous. A lot of people had given up on this team and were also losing confidence and patience with 13-year head coach Thad Matta. After the annihilation by Wisconsin in Madison earlier this week the natives were definitely restless. To make matters worse, the alway-tough Michigan State Spartans were in town, the Spartans that defeated OSU three times last season.

Things looked dire.

Sometime looks can be deceiving. 

The Buckeyes (11-7, 1-4 B1G) pulled themselves up by their collective bootstraps to play their best game of the season and earn a hard-fought 72-67 victory over MSU (12-7, 4-2 B1G) in front of a season-high 17,449 at Value City Arena. 

It wasn't like the Buckeyes did something new. What they did is play like Matta teams of old have always played, but haven't done in perhaps two seasons. They were hard-nosed, determined defenders that would not break in the face of adversity and pressure from the MSU offense. Their tough-mindedness also kept them poised at the offensive end, but more than anything else it was the defensive consistency that carried the day. The Buckeyes forced 17 MSU turnovers, produced five steals and three blocked shots. Most importantly, they did not give up easy baskets. MSU earned everything they got, and when the final horn sounded it wasn't enough to beat the Buckeyes. 

"Well I guess the credit goes to Ohio State. They made some plays, they made some shots," said Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo.

Guard JaQuan Lyle indeed did make some shots, eight of them to be exact, and five of those were from three point range. For his effort Lyle scored a team-high 22 points while handing out six assists with just one turnover. 

Lyle led the way, but he was far from alone.  All five Buckeye starters scored in double figures.  Forwards Jae'Sean Tate and Marc Loving each had 12 points. Guard Kam Williams and center Trevor Thompson each had 10. Thompson added a team-high eight rebounds, Loving seven rebounds of his own. 

The game played out as a dog fight with three ties and nine lead changes. MSU led by as many as eight points in the first half, and OSU led by as many as eight in the second half, but when it came to crunch time it was still close. OSU led by just four at 67-63 with 3:37 left to play, but held off the Spartans with solid defense that allowed just four more points over the final 3:37. OSU did not score a basket over the final 3:37, but made seven free throws to seal the win.  

The Buckeyes made shots and made free throws when it counted, but more than anything else they played like a tough basketball team that wanted very much to win,. It was a sight that brought a smile to Matta.

"I thought we competed," said Matta. 

"They called a time out at the start of the second half and I said ‘Fellas, it’s 2-0 us in the second half and we’ve had more guys on the floor in the first 59 seconds of this half than we had in the last four games. Let’s get up and keep playing,’ which was a really good thing to see."

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