EAST LANSING, Mich — A sea of white hindered Ohio State while it tried to establish its offense. Each time the shot clock was under 10 seconds, the Michigan State student section counted down to one, seemingly leading to a rushed shot even when five seconds were left on the clock.
C.J. Jackson, one of only two players on Ohio State’s roster that has played in East Lansing before, seemed unfazed. The senior guard, with five seconds left on the shot clock, put up a 3 from the top of the 3-point line as if time had expired. He sunk it, giving Ohio State the early 7-2 lead.
But even as Ohio State showed spurts of offensive potential in the first half, inexperience and inconsistency reigned, and the sea of white rejoiced as the Buckeyes (16-9, 6-8 Big Ten) fell to No. 11 Michigan State (21-5, 12-3 Big Ten) 62-44 on Sunday.
It was the least amount of points Ohio State has scored in a game this season.
After shooting 40 percent from the field in the first half, making 3-of-6 from deep, Ohio State struggled with offensive consistency in the second, making 4-of-21 from the field and 1-of-9 from 3.
The Buckeyes scored 13 points in the second half compared to Michigan State’s 37 and did not record a field goal in the final 7:40.
Facing a defense that limits opponents to shoot 37.3 percent from the field, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said struggling to score has been a challenge, but something he expected to see in this team.
“It’s not like we didn’t expect that we were going to have trouble scoring this year,” Holtmann said. “We had an expectation that that was going to be something. We just have to keep taking good shots.”
WIth the game tied at 39, Michigan State redshirt senior forward Kenny Goins sparked the Spartans’ second-half momentum, hitting a 3. But Jackson answered on the next possession with his second 3 in three tries.
Jackson finished the game with eight points, making 1-of-6 opportunities from inside the 3-point line.
But redshirt junior guard Kyle Ahrens answered with a 3 of his own, beginning a 10-0 Spartans run and putting a dagger through the hopes of the Buckeyes victory.
“If they are all hype making shots, it’s tough to make shots when the crowd is going crazy and they are all hyped up on defense,” sophomore guard Musa Jallow said.
In the second half, Michigan State made 12-of-26 attempts from the floor, shooting 42.9 percent from 3.
As the crowd got behind the Michigan State offense, especially in the second half, Holtmann said it was hard to watch his team implode offensively.
“It’s frustrating when you are struggling to score as much as you are struggling to score,” Holtmann said. “I think that is frustrating for guys because you tie so much of yourself to your offense.”
In the first half, momentum favored the road team.
The Ohio State offense came out hot, taking a 14-5 lead in the first seven minutes of the game. Sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, in his second matchup with Michigan State junior forward and Gahanna, Ohio-native Nick Ward, scored six of the 14 points.
Wesson finished the game with 12 points, the only Ohio State player with double-digit points, and nine rebounds.
With Ward sidelined for the majority of the first half with a hand injury, Wesson said he feels like he battled in the post, but said he was unhappy with his six missed shots.
But the runs continued in the first half. After redshirt junior Kyle Ahrens and Ward brought the Spartans back to within two, senior guard Matt McQuaid hit a corner 3 with Ohio State freshman forward Justin Ahrens draped over him, giving the Spartans its first lead of the day.
With the Spartans holding onto a one-point lead heading into the final three minutes of the first half, Jallow hit a 3, igniting a 7-0 run and giving the Buckeyes a 31-25 halftime lead.
This was the expectation for Jallow heading into the second half of play.
“Just come back for another 20 minutes and play as hard as we did in the first half,” Jallow said. “When the game ended, we weren’t as good as we were in the first half.”
Despite a six-point Ohio State lead heading into the second half, Michigan State began the half with a 7-1 run, tying the game at 32.
However, offensive success came to a stand still for both the Spartans and the Buckeyes a the start of the half, combining to make two of 12 total shots, with Ohio State missing its first six.
After the first half of play, Jallow felt this game was in the grasp of Ohio State. But after scoring 13 points in the second half, Jallow said this loss hurts.
“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth because we knew this was a winnable game and we just didn’t do enough to pull it out in the second half,” Jallow said.
Ohio State will travel home to take on Northwestern on Wednesday at the Schottenstein Center at 8:30 p.m.
Updated at 4:32 p.m. with quotes from sophomore guard Musa Jallow, sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson and head coach Chris Holtmann.