Spartans seeks 15th straight home win tonight against Buckeyes
(Sports Network) - The 18th-ranked Michigan State Spartans put their undefeated home record on the line tonight when they host the 13th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Big Ten Conference action from the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Spartans enter the tilt on a high note, as they improved to 11-0 at home with a 90-71 triumph over intrastate rival Michigan on Saturday. The win also marked the team's 14th in a row at home dating back to last season. MSU put an end to a brief two-game slide with the victory, as it improved to 19-7 overall and 7-5 in league play.
As for Ohio State, it pulled into a four-way tie (in the loss column) for first place in the Big Ten standings with a 61-52 triumph over Northwestern on Saturday. It was the fifth win in the past six games by the Buckeyes, who improved to 19-4 overall and 8-4 in conference. Tonight's game marks the 106th meeting between these two schools on the hardwood, with Michigan State holding a 59-46 edge in the series. The Spartans defeated Ohio State, 62-59, in overtime back in mid-January, marking the Buckeyes' lone loss in 15 home games this season.
Ohio State has been nothing short of solid this season, averaging a hardy 77.9 ppg on 48.6 percent shooting from the floor and 40.8 percent from three-point range. Terence Dials currently leads the team in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), and he is shooting 56.0 percent from the field. Je'Kel Foster, who heads the club with 57 steals, adds 14.0 ppg and 4.0 apg, and is also making good on 49.2 percent of his three-point attempts. Ron Lewis chips in with 12.0 ppg for the Buckeyes, while Jamar Butler contributes 10.2 ppg and a team-best 4.6 apg.
In the squad's last game, Dials notched his third straight double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in leading OSU to a nine-point win over Northwestern. J.J. Sullinger led the team with 16 points, while Lewis had 15 points and nine boards in the winning effort. It wasn't exactly the best performance of the year by the Buckeyes, who shot just 37.0 percent from the floor and made only 3-of-23 three-pointers and just 18-of-30 free throws. The team, however, compensated for the poor shooting by dominating the boards, 45-31, including 18-8 on the offensive glass.
The Spartans are paced by the trio of Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Paul Davis, and they are the primary reason the team is averaging 76.6 ppg on 48.8 percent shooting from the floor and 38.5 percent from long distance. Ager heads the club with 18.5 ppg while collecting 4.2 rpg and dishing out 2.9 apg. Brown is hot on his heels with 18.2 ppg, and is considered the team's top defender with 40 steals to his credit. As for Davis, he has been a force in the low post all season long for MSU, and is nearly averaging a double-double with 18.1 ppg and a team-high 9.5 rpg.
In the club's last outing, Brown poured in 26 points and dished out five assists to lead the Spartans to a 19-point win over bitter rival Michigan. Ager added 19 points in the victory, while Davis recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 boards. Michigan State shot a solid 54.7 percent from the floor in the game and also connected on 10-of-17 three-point tries and 10- of-12 free throws.MICHIGANST OHIOST