Spartans knock Buckeyes out of Big Ten tournament

Published 9:49 am Saturday, March 14, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) — Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson each had a strong all-around performance for Michigan State, and Travis Trice picked up his play in the second half.

It was exactly what coach Tom Izzo was looking for in the Spartans’ first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

Valentine had 23 points and Dawson anchored Michigan State’s stout defense, leading the Spartans to a 76-67 victory over Ohio State on Friday night.

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Trice scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half as the Spartans (22-10) advanced to the Big Ten semifinals for the fifth straight year. They are trying for their second straight tournament title and third in four seasons.

“Each of one of our three amigos here that need to play well had stretches where they were unbelievable,” Izzo said, “and that’s why you win games.”

Next up for third-seeded Michigan State is No. 2 seed Maryland, which advanced with a 75-69 victory over Indiana. The eighth-ranked Terrapins beat the Spartans twice this season, 68-66 in overtime on Dec. 30 and 75-59 on Jan. 17.

“We have a young team and you know as far as myself, Travis and Denzel, we just have to lead these guys,” Dawson said. “So for us to come out and get a huge win against a great team, a physical team, it was great for us.”

D’Angelo Russell had 19 points for sixth-seeded Ohio State (23-10), which had won four of five. Shannon Scott had 13 points and nine assists after he scored a career-high 21 in Thursday night’s 79-73 victory over Minnesota.

The Buckeyes, likely headed for their seventh straight NCAA Tournament berth, shot 39.7 percent (23 for 58) from the field.

“There’s times where you don’t make shots really,” Scott said. “That just happened to us. We had to get in better position to make shots. We rushed a lot of shots, as well.”

Ohio State coach Thad Matta appeared to be upset with the officiating at a couple different points in the second half. He said it was the most physical game one of his teams had been involved in.

“Honestly, I’d probably better be careful because I’m not very happy right now with what I saw,” he said. “I hadn’t seen anything like that. It is what it is. You know it’s going to be a physical basketball game, but yeah, I was just a little bit upset on one end to the other end and that sort of thing.”

Dawson finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots. With Ohio State trying to rally in the second half, the senior rejected Scott’s layup attempt and then hustled down for a dunk on the other end that lifted the Spartans to a 47-37 lead.

Trice scored eight in a row for Michigan State, helping the Spartans increase their lead to 17 at 60-43, but the Buckeyes battled back. Marc Loving’s 3-pointer made it a five-point game with three minutes left.

Trice then made two foul shots and Dawson had a rebound dunk on the break, making it 65-56 with 2 1/2 minutes to go. The Buckeyes then had to foul down the stretch and the Spartans wrapped it up at the line.

Valentine also hurt Ohio State in their regular-season meeting on Feb. 14, making a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in Michigan State’s 59-56 victory. The junior guard finished with a game-high 17 points.

It was more of the same in the rematch.

“This is a big time of year for us,” said Valentine, who also had eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals. “This is where Michigan State basketball has made their history, and we want to keep the tradition going.”


Ohio State: The Buckeyes dropped to 25-11 in the Big Ten Tournament. … Sam Thompson had 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting. The senior forward played high school ball at nearby Whitney Young.

Michigan State: Trice now has 1,014 career points. … Izzo improved to 24-14 in his career against Ohio State. … The Spartans are 83-34 in March since the 1998-99 season.


The Spartans finished with 23 assists on 29 field goals. “Our assist to field goals was off the charts,” Izzo said.


Ohio State waits to find out where it’s going for the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State faces Maryland on Saturday in the Big Ten semifinals.


Jay Cohen can be reached at