Liddell and Sueing Lead Buckeyes to Blowout Win Over Spartans

The 13th ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team won their 6th game in 7 tries and third in a row, blasting visiting Michigan State 79-62.  With the win, the Buckeyes move to 14-4 and 8-4 within the Big Ten. The Spartans, playing in their second outing since returning from a COVID pause, lost in convincing fashion for the second straight game and fell to 8-6 an 2-6 in the Big Ten. E.J. Liddell led all scorers with 20 points and 8 rebounds and Justice Sueing added 17 points and 7 rebounds. C.J. Walker chipped in 10 as seven Buckeyes scored 6 or more in the win.

A pair of Buckeye triples from E.J. Liddell and Justin Ahrens sandwiched around two Spartan buckets had the Buckeyes up 6-4 two minutes into the game. After a Spartan 3-0 run gave Michigan State a one-point lead, Liddell pumped at the top of the key, put it on the floor, and got to the rim for a score while being fouled. Liddell knocked down the free throw to give Ohio State a two-point advantage. A Liddell fade away mid lane went down and Kyle Young scored mid lane to put Ohio State up six and a 7-0 run. The Spartans answered, scoring six of the next eight to cut the lead to two. Justice Sueing sunk a pair of free throws at the 12:49 mark to put Ohio State back up four. A Spartan free throw cut the lead to three, but on the next possession, Zed Key caught the ball on the left block and drop stepped, sealed his defender, and scored off the glass to put Ohio State up five. After a Spartan turnover and foul, the game hit the under 12 media timeout and Ohio State on top of Michigan State 19-14. An Ahrens free throw put Ohio State up six but after a bucket each way, a Spartan triple cut the lead to three.  Seth Towns buried a triple from the right point to answer and after the Spartans bagged a pair of free throws to cut the lead to four, A Liddell free throw and a C.J. Walker pull-up jumper from the right elbow put Ohio State up 28-21 at the under 8 media timeout. Two Duane Washington free throws put the Buckeyes up nine but the Spartans scored on their next possession ending the 5-0 Buckeye run. After Walker buried two freebies, the Spartans drilled a triple to cut the lead to six. The lead moved back to eight when Key caught the ball deep in the post and scored off the glass and after another Spartan score, Washington drilled a three from the left wing to put Ohio State up 37-28 at the last media timeout of the half. Sueing scored through contact at the rim and following a Spartan miss, Ahrens found the range from the right corner to put Ohio State up 42-28 and Tom Izzo called timeout with 1:26 left in the half and Ohio State on an 8-0 run. A pair of Michigan State free throws ended the run and cut the lead to 12 and the Buckeyes had two shots at points at the end of the half but neither would go and the teams went into the locker room with the Buckeyes on top 42-30. The Buckeyes, who shot 45% in the first half, were led by E.J. Liddell’s 9 and Justin Ahrens’s 7 among eight Buckeyes with between 3 and 9 points. The Buckeyes were solid defensively in the first half, holding the Spartans to just 40% from the floor and forcing 6 turnovers, while turning it over only once themselves.

After a sloppy first couple minutes that included two Buckeye turnovers, a pair of Liddell free throws and a Spartan bucket kept the lead at 12. On the next Spartan possession, Sueing jumped a passing lane at the top and took it the length of the floor for a lay in and Ohio State led by 14. A Spartan bucket cut the lead back to 12 and at the first media timeout of the second half, Ohio State led 46-34, maintaining the 12 point advantage they held at halftime. Liddell scored with a half hook mid lane to put Ohio State on top by 14 and after a Spartan bucket, Towns hit a shot from the right wing , heavily defended as the shot clock expired to put Ohio State up 50-36.  Three Spartan free throws and a pair from Ohio State followed by a Sueing mid lane jumper put Ohio State up 15 and after another two Spartan freebies, Ohio State turned on the gas. A 7-0 run, fueled by Liddell’s mid lane jumper and Washington’s triple with the shot clock expiring and a pair of Sueing free throws put Ohio State up 20. Back to back Spartan three’s cut the lead quickly back to 14, but a beautifully executed pick and roll by Washington and Liddell led to Liddell scoring and getting fouled. Liddell knocked down the free throw for the old fashioned three point play and Ohio State was back up 17. After another two Spartan free throws, Towns scored on a pretty turnaround off the glass to keep the lead at 17. The Spartans cut the lead to 14 with a triple from the left corner and trimmed it down to 13 with a free throw coming out of the under 8 media break. A Walker steal and score bumped the lead back to 15, but after another pair of Spartan free throws cut the lead back to 13 with 5:30 to go. A pair of Spartan free throws and a steal and score in the backcourt cut the Buckeye lead to just 9 and the Spartans on a 10-2 run. Two Walker free throws pushed the lead back to 11 and Chris Holtmann called a timeout with Ohio State leading 70-59 and 4:02 remaining. A Spartan free throw cut the lead to 10, but Walker hit a mid-range jumper from the free throw line to put Ohio State up 12. The Spartans cut it back to 10 with two free throws when Ahrens was called for a questionable foul call that drew the ire of Coach Holtmann. A pair of Liddell free throws followed by a wild shot from the right corner by Kyle Young that fell as the shot clock expired following a rebound of an air ball and Ohio State led by 14. Sueing knocked down 3 out of 4 free throws down the stretch to put Ohio State up 17 and end the scoring in the Buckeye win.

The Buckeyes controlled this one throughout, not allowing Michigan State to put on any sizeable run in the game and held the Spartans to just 32% shooting, including holding them to just one field goal in their last 10 attempts foiling any chance they had to make a comeback. The Buckeyes got balance in the scoring column as they have done fairly consistently during this winning stretch of games. E.J. Liddell is still leading this team in all areas as he has become a matchup nightmare for opponents with his length and ability to shoot it from the outside and the emergence of Justice Sueing has added an additional element that makes this team very difficult to defend. They find themselves in the thick of a hotly contested Big Ten conference and how they play over the next several weeks will go a long way into determining how high a seed they can earn in the NCAA tournament. It obviously doesn’t get any easier but they have a big opportunity next Thursday as they head to Iowa City for a big matchup with the 7th ranked Hawkeyes.

The Buckeyes are scheduled to play the aforementioned Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Thursday evening for a 7PM tip and airing on ESPN.

-Jason Harris                              

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