CHICAGO (WCMH) — Ohio State continued its improbable run in the Big Ten Tournament beating Michigan State 68-58 Friday to advance to the semifinals.
The 13th-ranked Buckeyes become the lowest-seeded team in Big Ten Tournament history to advance to the semifinals.
Freshman point guard Bruce Thornton was once again the difference maker for OSU dropping 21 points for an average of 18 points in his last seven games.
OSU shot 44.6% from the field and buried 10 three pointers despite not having leading scorer Brice Sensabaugh who missed the quarterfinal game with knee soreness.
“They’re trusting the pass, they’re trusting each other and their living with the results and a by product of that has been better offense,” coach Chris Holtmann said.
Holtmann said Sensabaugh asked to come out late in Thursday’s win over Iowa due to a knee injury. The medical staff decided to keep him out agianst Michigan State after several evaluations.
“He’s getting testing done tonight. We’ll hopefully know more tonight on how significant the injury is,” Holtmann said. “We’re just concerned about Brice.”
Not having Sensabaugh meant relying on fewer players for more minutes against the Spartans.
“We could have some legs that are a little bit fatigued but confidence trumps fatigued legs. We’ll roll with that anytime,” Holtmann said.
The Spartans started the first four minutes of the second half on a 10-3 run to pull within two points after trailing 33-24 at halftime. But the Buckeyes responded by going on a 15-5 run over the next eight minutes to take a 12-point lead with eight minutes left.
Sparty didn’t go down without a fight rallying for a 9-2 run to make it a six-point game with five minutes left. Once again, freshman Roddy Gayle Jr. stepped up in the last five minutes contributing seven of his 15 points in the final four minutes and change to propel OSU to victory. Justice Sueing also added 14 points in the win.
Michigan State ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage during the regular season at 40%. But a combination of lockdown defense and missed open shots resulted in the Spartans only hitting three triples on 16 attempts.
Up next, the Buckeyes face No. 1 seed Purdue at 1:00 p.m. EST.