Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 11, 2016
Michigan State arrived in Indy as the hottest team in the Big Ten. And, the Spartans show no signs of cooling off. Tonight?s 81-54 demolition of No. 7 Ohio State was impressive. It was the third time Michigan State had beaten Ohio State since Feb. 24. Tom Izzo?s squad looks to be peaking at just the right time. MSU will play the winner of No. 3 Maryland-No. 11 Nebraska on Saturday for the right to play for the Big Ten tourney title.
The Buckeyes? season ends with a thud. Despite a 20-13 overall mark and an 11-7 Big Ten record, the Buckeyes figure to be left out of the Big Dance. But some type of postseason bid figures to be in the offing for a young and developing squad.
Top star: Denzel Valentine lived up to his ?star? billing, leading the Spartans with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He is Mr. Do It All.
Top stat line: Deyonta Davis had a game. The Spartan freshman big man hit 6-of-12 shots with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks with 12 points.
Top stat: 40, rebounds for Michigan State compared to just 29 for Ohio State. The Spartans were just bigger, tougher and stronger than the Buckeyes. And their domination of the glass was an indication of that.
Top dunk: Early in the game, Bryn Forbes jetted down court and spotted an open Denzel Valentine cutting to the hoop and tossed him a mid-air pass. Valentine caught it and tossed a loft to Deyonta Davis for a slam. Stupendous. Davis also had a powerful dunk off a missed Valentine shot in the second half. And on it went, as MSU had myriad dunks in the second half, including two Matt Costello rim-rattlers.
It was over when: Michigan State led, 33-26, at the half. And it quickly asserted its control in the final 20 minutes. Sloppy play by the Buckeyes combined with an aggressive approach by the Spartans helped MSU push to a 19-point margin just over six minutes into the second half. Michigan State outscored OSU, 48-28, in the second half when it ran away with the game.
Did you see that? Late in the first half, Ohio State?s JaQuan Lyle slammed down a bottle of water on the bench, which caused a lengthy delay due to clean up. As a result, the Ohio State was given a bench warning by the officials.
- The three previous Michigan State teams to enter the Big Ten tournament as the No. 2 seed reached the Final Four, something the Spartans have done seven times since 1999. Michigan State won the Big Ten tournament in 2000 as the second seed and went on to win Izzo's only national championship. The 2001 and 2005 squads bowed out in the quarterfinal round but turned it on again in the NCAA Tournament.
- Michigan State has won 11 of its last 12.
- Ohio State?s string of seven NCAA trips in a row probably is over.
- Tom Izzo?s buddy Steve Mariucci was on hand.