Michigan State basketball closes out regular season with 84-78 win over Ohio State

EAST LANSING — More sizzling scoring. More good ball movement. More deep-breathing with an opponent’s comeback.

A win on senior day. And a chance to exhale as Michigan State basketball awaits its postseason fate.

A.J. Hoggard tied a career high with 23 points and adding seven assists, as the Spartans put together a balanced offensive performance and survived Ohio State’s hot second-half shooting for an 84-78 victory Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center.

MSU (19-11, 11-8 Big Ten) now must wait for the conclusion of the league’s regular season Sunday to learn who it will face to open play in next week’s Big Ten tournament Thursday or Friday.

The seniors shined, as well. Joey Hauser scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting with six rebounds, while Tyson Walker had 15 points and six of the Spartans’ 17 assists on 29 made baskets. Fellow senior Malik Hall started and finished with 10 points, while sophomore Jaden Akins swapped roles and came off the bench and added 13 points, including three 3-pointers along with Hauser.

Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard handles the ball while defended by Ohio State guard Roddy Gayle Jr. during the first half on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Breslin Center.

Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard handles the ball while defended by Ohio State guard Roddy Gayle Jr. during the first half on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Breslin Center.

Freshmen Brice Sensabaugh had 21 points and Bruce Thornton scored 20 for Ohio State (13-18, 5-15), which will be the No. 13 seed and open Big Ten tournament play Wednesday. Justice Sueing added 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Sean McNeil hit three of the Buckeyes’ 11 3-pointers and scored 11.

Shaking it up

With senior day, Izzo went with his veterans as starters – a lineup with four seniors in Walker, Hauser, Hall and former walk-on Jason Whitens.

It was the only junior starter, Hoggard, who woke up Breslin and continued the strong play he showed in the second half Tuesday at Nebraska.

First came a lob for an alley-oop to start the scoring, with Hall flushing it in his first start since Nov. 18 against Villanova. Then Hoggard took a pass in the corner from Walker and swished a 3-pointer, followed by a driving layup. The 6-foot-4 point guard then snagged a defensive rebound, pushed the pace and dropped the ball for Hall to drain another 3-pointer.

That came as part of a 15-0 run, with Hauser following with a pair of buckets, then Tre Holloman hitting MSU’s third 3-pointer for a 17-6 lead a little under eight minutes into the game.

The Spartans’ defense bottled up the Buckeyes early as well, holding them to a 2-for-11 start from the field. They continued the hot outside shooting, with Hoggard and Hauser connecting before OSU started to recover.

A 7-0 run pulled the Buckeyes within four on Sean McNeil’s 3-pointer with 6:39 to go before half, and they would maintain pressure by hitting four of their last from deep before halftime.

But MSU got scoring in clusters from a multitude of sources. Hall with another 3-pointer and a jumper. Akins with a 3-pointer and the driving layup for a three-point play. Walker with two big buckets as OSU started to get momentum.

At the half, the offense was efficient and scoring balanced as MSU shot 56.7% overall and hit 8 of 14 from 3-point range. Hall had 10, Akins nine, Hoggard eight, Hauser seven, Walker six. They had 11 assists on the 17 field goals, with Hoggard and Walker each with four. And the transition game, lagging all season, posted a 17-2 advantage on the break, including eight points on the run in the last four minutes before half for a 43-34 lead.

Finishing through adversity

Ohio State wouldn’t go away, however.

After closing the first half by making 10 of their final 15 shots, the Buckeyes carried it over after the break. Sensabaugh drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second period, and the Buckeyes continuously whittled at the Spartans’ lead.

Every time, though, MSU went to Walker for an answer. First with a 3-pointer after those Sensabaugh shots cut it to a five-point game. Again with a driving layup after OSU pulled within six. Another Walker score on the attack after a Hauser 3-pointer gave the Spartans an 11-point lead with 11:55 to play.

But the Buckeyes kept pecking, ripping off a 10-3 run with two McNeil 3-pointers and another from Thornton to pull within 67-64. It forced Izzo to call timeout with 5:28 to play.

Again, it was Walker to counter. He drove to the basket, split two defenders, and scored through between the traffic. The defense started to get some stops from there, with Hoggard hitting two free throws and Hauser backing into the paint for a bucket.

Yet Ohio State pounded the offensive boards to stay within reach, with five in the second half and four of those in the last 10 minutes. And the Buckeyes shot 51.6% in the second half, making 7 of 15 3-point attempts and outrebounding the Spartans, 17-14, after half.

But Hoggard hit two more free throws with 1:44 to play, sliced through the lane and finished opposite-handed at the left side of the rim for a layup, then buried another pair at the line with 26.9 to play to close out the Buckeyes and the regular season with the Spartans’ fourth straight game scoring 80-plus points in a row.

Hoggard hit 9 of 11 at the free-throw line for 15 second-half points, making 3 of 5 shots.

After Sensabaugh drilled another 3-pointer with 9.4 to play that made it 83-78, Hoggard zipped through the press and got fouled. That allowed Izzo to get in subs so Hall, Whitens, Walker and Hauser all got their moment to kiss the Spartan helmet – a senior tradition that came with a win worth waiting for.

Contact Chris Solari: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball takes 84-78 win over Ohio State in finale