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Ohio State’s 39-game home winning streak halted with poor shooting

Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor

Entering Saturday’s contest against conference foe Michigan State, the Ohio State men’s basketball team was one of the premiere shooting teams in the country.

The Buckeyes came into the matchup ranked 10th in Division I, shooting 49.1 percent from the field. There was no such luck Saturday for OSU at the Schottenstein Center, who lost to the Spartans, 58-48. The loss snapped OSU’s 39-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest active streak in the nation.

The Buckeyes shot 26 percent from the field on 14-of-53 shooting, its lowest output since converting 24.6 percent of its shots in a 2007 matchup against Texas A&M in Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y.

Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger struggled all game long, notching 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He pulled in 16 rebounds but also committed 10 turnovers.

“We were out of sync; we weren’t going to play our offense,” Sullinger said. “Everybody wasn’t paying attention to the plays and didn’t run plays correctly. I think that’s what messed us up the most with our shooting.”

It wasn’t only Sullinger who struggled.

Streaky senior guard William Buford mustered four points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field. Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas also only converted 2-of-12 from the field.

So why weren’t shots falling for OSU?

The Buckeyes had plenty of good looks, and in some cases, it seemed as if they simply couldn’t buy a basket — except from the free-throw line where OSU converted 18 of 22 free throws.

“You have to make a shot, have to put the ball in the basket,” OSU coach Thad Matta said after the game. “Some of the looks we had down the stretch were rough. I’m not taking anything away from Michigan State — they had a lot to do with it. I thought our defense was good enough, but you can’t shoot (26) percent.”

On first glance, OSU’s offensive output (or lack thereof) was reminiscent of its performance against Kentucky in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, when the Wildcats sent the No. 1-overall seed Buckeyes packing in the Sweet 16, handing OSU a 62-60 loss.

The Buckeyes only managed to shoot 32.8 percent from the field in their disappointing season-ender, highlighted by Buford’s dreadful 2-of-16 mark from the field.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said the play of Buford Saturday, as well as the play from the rest of the OSU squad, was uncharacteristic, but credited it to his defense.

“I thought Ohio State missed some shots that I normally see them make,” Izzo said. “We had to run them to wear them down a bit. It was physical both ways.”

That it was.

The teams combined to shoot 38 free throws in a typically brutal Big Ten slugfest. The slower pace resulted in OSU only producing 48 points, from its average of 76.9 points per game.

Sullinger was visibly frustrated at times. He drew plenty of contact in the lane and frequently conversed with officials for foul calls.

MSU’s defense collapsed on Sullinger, helping to force his 10 turnovers.

“Most of the turnovers I had were me going up for shots,” Sullinger said. “I wasn’t expecting the double (teams) because that’s not what Michigan State shows on film.”

Craft said the team needs to regroup.

“We have to refocus,” Craft said. “We’re still at the top of the league. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Despite handing OSU possibly its ugliest loss of the season, Izzo said he is still impressed by the Buckeyes.

“I don’t feel any different than I did a month ago or six months ago,” Izzo said. “Ohio State’s the best team in the league and (Saturday’s game) doesn’t change anything.”

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