Ohio State comes up short against Michigan State

Last-second shot does not go according to plan

1/21/2013
BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan State's Branden Dawson, left, and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas  battle for ball. Thomas finished with 28 points.
Michigan State's Branden Dawson, left, and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas battle for ball. Thomas finished with 28 points.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A year ago, Ohio State's last shot at the Breslin Center resulted in a celebration that shattered the quiet.

There would be no reprise Saturday.

Its final heave in a 59-56 road loss to No. 18 Michigan State led only to confusion amid the din.

After reserve guard Shannon Scott — and not the blistering hand that carried 11th-ranked OSU (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) to the brink of victory — set free a potential game-tying shot off the side of the backboard, no one in scarlet could believe it.

Not Deshaun Thomas, who shook his head and walked away after finishing with a game-high 28 points. Not coach Thad Matta, who looked back to his coaches in exasperation. Not Scott, who put hands to knees, then pulled his jersey over his head.

A year after Libbey graduate William Buford's last-second 20-footer lifted Ohio State to a 72-70 victory, the Buckeyes missed a pair of decisive deep looks in the final minute Saturday.

The first one — a corner 3-pointer by Aaron Craft with the Buckeyes trailing 55-53 — was a perfect look.

The second one was more debatable.

Thomas had almost single-handedly kept the Buckeyes in another classic against Michigan State (16-3, 5-1), scoring half of the Buckeyes' points on 10-of-20 shooting. So when Ohio State got the ball out of a timeout down by three points with 7.9 seconds left, all in the crowd of 14,797 knew where the ball was going.

Or so they thought.

Ohio State's Aaron Craft dives for a loose ball during the first half against Michigan State.
Ohio State's Aaron Craft dives for a loose ball during the first half against Michigan State.

Asked if he wanted the ball, Thomas said, “Yeah, I was knocking shots all night.”

Scott instead took the ball the length of the court and took an off-balance shot from the wing with 3 seconds left. Thomas trailed two steps behind him, waiting for Scott to kick the ball back.

“Coach said if they tried to foul you, try to throw it up, and I think that's what Shannon was trying to do,” Thomas said. “But there really was a play to kick it back. I think he was listening to what coach said. He was going to see if they were going to foul him, and chuck it up there.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he instructed his players to foul Thomas, though the Buckeyes star said he still thought he would would get off a shot.

Izzo's response to Thomas not getting that chance?

“I was relieved,” he said.

Matta, meanwhile, downplayed the final sequence.

“That was not the play that cost us the game,” he said. “There's no doubt about that.”

Michigan State's Branden Dawson (22) goes over Ohio State's Evan Ravenel (30) for a shot during Saturday's game in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes fell to 13-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten.
Michigan State's Branden Dawson (22) goes over Ohio State's Evan Ravenel (30) for a shot during Saturday's game in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes fell to 13-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten.

That much was true on a night that swayed wildly back and forth.

Ohio State fell behind 13-2. But unlike in their road league opener at Illinois, when the Buckeyes played dead after the host's opening burst, they stirred and reversed course. Thomas and Aaron Craft answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to set off a 15-0 run that put Ohio State ahead 17-13.

The teams spent the rest of the night answering the others’ blows.

Michigan State went ahead 46-39, but OSU rushed back to tie it at 50 on Thomas’ sixth 3-pointer of the night.

Michigan State’s Adreian Payne then had a 3-point play the old-fashioned way. But a steal by Craft that led two two free throws by Thomas tied the game again with 57.9 seconds left.

Michigan State went ahead for good on a Keith Appling drive with 41 seconds remaining.

Thomas’ six 3-pointers marked a career high. Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, Lenzelle Smith, had six points.

Appling led MSU with 15 points.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.