Marc Loving made his return to the court, but Denzel Valentine stole the Valentine’s Day show in East Lansing, Mich.
No. 23 Ohio State (19-7, 8-5) and Loving, a sophomore forward, fell to Valentine and Michigan State (17-8, 8-4), 59-56, Saturday, giving the Buckeyes just their second loss in seven games.
Valentine, a junior guard for the Spartans, scored 17 points — including a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds on the clock — to lead all players as OSU couldn’t overcome a nine-point halftime deficit.
Loving, who had missed the past three games due to an undisclosed suspension, took just one shot before halftime — a missed 3-pointer — and freshman guard D’Angelo Russell didn’t fare much better. Russell shot just 3-for-9 from the field in the opening 20 minutes as Michigan State rode a 15-2 run into the break.
After a layup by freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate with just under 6:30 to play in the first half, the Buckeyes didn’t register another point from the field until a dunk by senior center Amir Williams with 17:46 on the clock in the second half.
From there, OSU took a 12-7 run to pull within one-point after the under-12 timeout, at which point the Buckeyes were already in the bonus.
As the clock ticked past the eight-minute mark, senior forward Sam Thompson put down a breakaway dunk for just his second field goal of the game, tying the game at 46.
The Spartans regained the lead with a free throw, but senior guard Shannon Scott answered back with a make of his own from the charity stripe, but missed the second attempt, keeping the game tied at 47.
With less than six minutes to play, OSU had made just five of its 13 free throw attempts.
Scott tacked on a mid-range jumper with 5:19 on the clock to give the Buckeyes their first second-half lead, 49-47.
After Michigan State took a 56-53 lead, senior forward Sam Thompson connected on a game-tying 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play, but Valentine’s last-ditch long ball gave the Spartans the win in regulation.
Scott led OSU with 15 points and added five rebounds and five assists, while Russell tallied 10 points, six assists and five rebounds of his own. Thompson and Tate each totaled 10 points for the Buckeyes as well.
Loving’s missed 3-pointer in the first half was his only shot attempt of the game.
After Valentine’s 17 points, senior forward Branden Dawson keyed the Spartans’ effort with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
The Buckeyes are scheduled for a second straight game in the Great Lake State as they get set to take on Michigan on Feb. 22 in Ann Arbor. Tip is set for 1 p.m.