EAST LANSING, Michigan (WCMH) — No. 4 Ohio State suffered its second-straight set back in a 71-67 loss to unranked Michigan State on Thursday. The loss snaps OSU’s six-game road win streak.
The Buckeyes led for most of the game, but Michigan State took a 64-63 lead with 2:32 left in the game — the Spartans’ first lead since the 15:13 mark of the first half.
Michigan State was able to hold onto the lead by making seven free throws late while Duane Washington Jr. went 0-for-5 down the stretch, including what looked like a missed foul call by the refs on a Washington layup with seven seconds to go and Ohio State trailing by two.
OSU coach Chris Holtmann argued the non call and was ejected from the game with one second left for picking up his second technical foul.
“I thought plays that were normally called fouls in the Big Ten were not called fouls,” he said. “We’re always going to fight for our guys.”
Ohio State has the third-most efficient offense in the country but scored fewer than 70 points for the first time since Jan. 19 when the Buckeyes lost to Purdue. The Buckeyes’ offense grinded to a halt at the end of the game and did not make a field goal in the final four minutes and 44 seconds.
“They made a few more shots and we had trouble finishing around the basket,” Holtmann said.
The Buckeyes missed the presence of Kyle Young who did not play due to a concussion he suffered late in the loss to the Wolverines. Young averages more than 26 minutes a game.
“[Kyle] does a lot for us. He’s our glue guy out there,” OSU point guard CJ Walker said. “He’s kind of an X-factor . . . We really missed him tonight.”
Washington and E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes on offense once again combining for 35 points.
The Buckeyes also fell 92-87 to No. 3 Michigan on Saturday in their first loss since Jan. 3.
The Spartans tied the game 40-40 after a technical foul was called on Holtmann following a play in post on missed shot by Liddell that Holtmann believed should have been a foul.
But those two points didn’t cost OSU as much as a missed call late in the first half. Washington made a three pointer with one second left on the shot clock, but the refs ruled the shot came after the buzzer and the three points were taken off the board.
“The explanation was that it was close,” Holtmann said. “Wish I could say more. It would’ve been an important three points.”
Ohio State may have lost its chance at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament but can improve its chances at getting the highest seed possible when the Buckeyes play top 10 Iowa and Illinois to close out the regular season. First up for OSU is a home game with the Hawkeyes on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.