EAST LANSING, Mich. — For the second year in a row at Michigan State, Ohio State had a shot to force overtime — or in this case, a second one — and the ball ended up in the hands of a player who probably wasn’t the first or second option.
A year ago, it was Shannon Scott taking a running three-pointer from the wing at the end of regulation. It bounced off the side of the backboard and the Buckeyes lost by three.
Last night, it was freshman Marc Loving taking an off-balance three between two defenders with three seconds left in overtime. It missed, Michigan State added a free throw with a second left and survived 72-68 after the Buckeyes had rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final 7:05.
“We were hoping for a catch-and-shoot. We were going to shoot quick. It just didn’t work out,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta, whose team lost for the first time this season.
Keith Appling scored 20 points and Adreian Payne had 18 on an injured foot for No.?5 Michigan State (14-1, 3-0 Big Ten). Payne did not start the game but ended up playing 32 minutes. The Spartans also were without backup point guard Travis Trice, who had the flu.
Sam Thompson had a season-high 18 points, 14 after halftime, and Loving scored 10 to lead Ohio State (15-1, 2-1).
Thompson and Loving played 28 and 23 minutes, respectively, off the bench in place of the team’s top two scorers, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr., whom Matta benched down the stretch after they combined to miss 14 of 18 shots from the field.
Stymied for much of the game by a Michigan State defense seemingly intent on proving that it, and not Ohio State, is the best in college basketball, the Buckeyes unlocked the combination in the final 7:05 of regulation by avoiding the mistakes that had sabotaged their offense to that point.
Ohio State had a season-high 21 turnovers, with Scott and Aaron Craft combining for 10, but only four in the final 13 minutes including overtime.
With the Buckeyes trailing 55-38 with less than eight minutes to play, Thompson and Loving scored the next nine points to spark a closing 20-3 run.
Craft’s three-point play with 2:02 left brought the Buckeyes to 57-54. After an offensive foul on Appling, Craft narrowed the deficit to one point when he inbounded the ball under the basket off Payne’s rear end, stepped inbounds, caught the ball and scored on a layup with a minute to play.
Payne made 1 of 2 free throws for a 58-56 lead, but Amir Williams’ catch-and-dunk rebound with 21.1 seconds left tied the score.
Scott stole the ball in the final seconds and drove for the winning layup but the Spartans defended it, forcing overtime.
The teams were tied at 66 with a minute to play in overtime, but Appling’s three over Scott with 27.5 seconds left put Michigan State ahead to stay.
Loving’s two free throws trimmed the lead to one with 16.3 seconds left. Appling matched them two seconds later.
With Ohio State having called timeout after Loving’s free throws to discuss a final possession, Craft brought the ball upcourt and passed off quickly to Loving on the left wing and the freshman got off an awkward, leaning attempt with three seconds left.
Craft took the blame for it.
“At that point, everyone kind of knows what we need. We need a three, and it’s pretty tough to get a good shot off,” he said.
“I probably didn’t put him in the best situation, especially him being a freshman, not having been in the situation (before). I just kind of gave him the ball. I should have made a better play, done something different.
“I think I just kind of bailed out and gave him the ball. I thought he was open. He wasn’t. That’s on me.”
By Bob Baptist
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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