Buckeyes Struggle with Foul Trouble, Eliminated From the Big Ten Tournament

Ohio State hung tough for about 30 minutes, fell down big, before mounting a furious comeback in the last 4 minutes, but foul concerns eventually caught up to them, costing them the game and an opportunity to advance, falling to the top seeded Michigan State Spartans 77-70 to fall to 19-14 on the season. Keyshawn Woods led Ohio State with 16 and Andre Wesson added 14 as Ohio State now awaits their NCAA fate on Sunday night.

Keyshawn Woods led the Buckeyes early, scoring 8 of the first 10 including a pair of triples as Ohio State got out to an early 10-6 lead. However, Woods picked up his second foul of the game, offensive in transition and had to go to the bench.  A couple of possessions later, Kaleb Wesson picked up his second on a very questionable bad screen and the Buckeyes would have to play extended minutes without two key players.  A Jackson triple midway through the half gave Ohio State a 4 point lead but the Spartans battled back to tie it at the 9:41 mark forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout.  The Spartans took a 2-point lead as part of a 6-0 run but the Buckeyes tied it as the teams hit the under 8 minute media timeout and 7:17 showing on the first half clock.  The Spartans extended the lead to 3 out of the timeout as part of a 9-2 run that was ended when a post feed from Kyle Young found Andre Wesson in the corner who buried a 3 to tie the score with 5:40 to go in the half.  Another Wesson triple gave the Buckeyes a 2-point lead with 4:30 left but the Spartans answered with a deep 3 of their own tying the score.  An offensive foul on Woods on the next possession, his third, sent him to the bench with 3:39 still to play in the half.  A 9-2 Spartan run gave them their biggest lead of 5 with just under 2 minutes to go but a Duane Washington 3 trimmed the deficit back to 2 with 1:25 left to play in the first 20 minutes.  The Spartans finished the half with the final 4 points, all off the fingers of Cassius Winston, to give Michigan State a 36-30 advantage at the break.  Despite Michigan State hitting nearly 64% of their shot attempts and 2 key players in foul trouble for Ohio State along with 10 turnovers, the Buckeyes were still very much in the ballgame.  Woods led Ohio State with 10 and Andre Wesson added 6 for the Buckeyes in the first half.

The Buckeyes came out firing early in the second half and back-to-back threes by each Wesson brother gave Ohio State a 2-point lead just over 3 minutes into the half. A minute later, with the game tied, Kaleb Wesson was hit for a flagrant 1 foul on an errant elbow giving Michigan State 2 free throws and the basketball.  They buried both free throws and followed that up with a three and just like that, Michigan State led by 5 with 16 minutes left in the game.  The Spartans continued their run, extending the lead to 7 as part of an 11-2 run but Ohio State answered to cut the lead to 5.  However, with 13:38 remaining, Kaleb Wesson was whistled for his 4th personal foul on another questionable call that looked like a charge, but nonetheless he was forced to the bench for a time with the 4 personals.  Michigan State built the lead to 8 after a wide open triple, with 11:06 to go and the under 12 media timeout.  After a pair of Buckeye misses, the Spartans extended their biggest lead of the game to 10 with 10 minutes to go forcing Ohio State to call timeout to attempt to regroup as they were finding offense tough to come by without Kaleb Wesson on the floor.  A Musa Jallow 3 cut the lead to 8 before Michigan State’s Cassius Winston drilled a three while being fouled and buried the free throw for a 4 point possession to give Michigan State a 12 point bulge.  After an Ohio State miss, Michigan State got out and ran and a dunk in transition gave the Spartans a 14 point bulge as they threatened to run away with it at the under 8 timeout.  Yet another questionable foul call on Kaleb Wesson, fouled him out and the Spartans took advantage, going on a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 22 effectively ending the game.  The Buckeyes continued to fight, going on a 17-0 run to get to within 7 with 18 seconds to go after a Luther Muhammad three and 5 after a Washington jumper, forcing Tom Izzo to re-enter his starters, but a pair of Cassius Winston free throws with 9 seconds remaining sealing it.

While the Spartans are clearly the deeper and more talented team, the Buckeyes were victim of several questionable foul calls which took them totally out of their game on the offensive end most especially and ultimately cost them the basketball game. We saw how much the Buckeyes struggle without Wesson in the final 3 regular season games and it reared its ugly head again in this one although not entirely by his own doing.  The Buckeyes overall have to be happy with they way they competed over the past couple days and will hope to take that fight going forward to whichever postseason tournament they are in.  Ohio State most likely has done enough to sneak into the NCAA tournament, likely an 11 or 12 seed and will be a dangerous out for a 5 or 6 seed when they are rolling.  They don’t have the depth of some teams, especially in the post but when Wesson is on the floor they can play with most of the best teams in college basketball.  We will wait like much of the country to find out when the Buckeyes play next hopefully in the Big Dance.

Ohio State will be lacing them up sometime next week whether it’s in the NCAA tournament or the NIT, time and date to be determined.

Jason Harris

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