Game 5 Preview: The Spartans

On January 18, 2013 by Buckeye Empire

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images    

      How about those Buckeyes last week? That was an impressive victory on Sunday over That Team Up North, and it was very satisfying to end TTUN’s perfect season. It was also a bonus to be watching the game with all my friends who are Wal-Mart Wolverines, and seeing some of them cry. Although I thoroughly enjoyed that victory, I was still a little concerned with the way the team played in the second half. I’m not going to go into much detail since it has been almost a week since the game, but the boys came out flat against a good team. Wow just calling TTUN a good team made me throw up in my mouth a little. They looked like the game was over and Trey Burke and Co. were going to lie down without a fight. We’ve seen this team implode in the second half of a few games already this season most notably was the Duke game. We almost gave the game to TTUN in the second half, with only 22 points, but I was also impressed with the way the team handled the adversity and pressure late in the game. Well I think that’s enough criticizing a big win for this team.
     Now let’s look ahead to next game against the Michigan State Spartans (15-3, 4-1 B1G). The game is set to tip-off at 6:00 PM ET, and is on ESPN/WatchESPN for those of you who will not be able to get to a TV, or to your favorite bar. This game is going to be a dandy with the Buckeyes riding a 2 game win streak, and Sparty looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss at the Breslin Center at the hands of William Buford. The Spartans are always a tough opponent when playing at home thanks to Coach Tom Izzo. The Buckeyes do have a winning record at the Breslin under Coach Thad Matta (4-3) but a losing record overall (7-8). So we can throw history out the window when these teams meet again on Saturday evening.

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

   I have a few keys to the game that I think the Buckeyes are going to need if they are going to have a shot to beat the Spartans.
1. The Buckeyes are going to have to get Craft-y on defense. Did you see what I did there? The Buckeyes are going to have to play tough defense again and keep it up for an entire game. It’s going to start with Aaron Craft, he will need to set the tone while guarding Keith Appling. Appling is Sparty’s best player and leading scorer this season. The other guys will also need to step up their defense as well.
2. Windex the glass. The Buckeyes are going to need to rebound well and not give the Spartans any second chance points. MSU has two big guys on the inside who rebound very well in Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. This means Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams will have to box these guys out.
3. The Buckeyes need to be offensive. Someone else on the floor is going to have to score besides Deshaun Thomas, who was the only one to score over double figures in the last game. So Lenzelle Smith Jr., Craft and Sam aka “Slam” Thompson; all three of them are going to have to make their shots.
4. Ignore the Izzone. They say home court is good for ten points at least, so the Buckeyes will have to stay composed. The students at MSU are nuts we all know that, they have been known to flip cars and burn couches when they lose. So this is going to be a hostile environment to play but if the Buckeyes go on a big run to start the game it will silence the fans early. That way we will not have to hear them chant their colors out loud like a bunch of pre-schoolers.

     Talking about this game I have to bring up the fact that a story was broken Wednesday that Payne and teammate/roommate Branden Dawson were involved in an altercation with each other. Apparently they were “needling” whatever that means, but they were benched for the game against Penn State for only the first half. Sparty hung on to win that game but you can’t help but wonder how this is going to impact the locker room. Hopefully the Buckeyes can take advantage of this and get a victory on Saturday.

     I feel that the Buckeyes will get the win but I am nervous as to which team is going to show up. The team that knocked off TTUN or the team that got shellacked in Illinois? If the latter happens we could be in for a long night, but if the boys play like they did on Sunday we will definitely get the win. I see this as a low scoring affair with Thomas leading all scorers with 25 points, and the Buckeyes picking up the win with a final score of 66-60.