It was all Deshaun Thomas for No. 11 Ohio State (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) on Saturday night as the Buckeyes fell at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, 59-56.
Thomas was a one man wrecking crew, scoring a stellar 28 points and leading much of his team's effort in the close call to the No. 11 Michigan State Spartans (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten). Seven rebounds on top of his impressive offensive performance was still, yet, not enough to drop the Spartans on their home court. Even six three-pointers from Thomas couldn't keep Michigan State pegged down.
As time ticked off the clock in the final seconds of the match up and Michigan State successfully kept the ball out of Thomas' hands for the final moments, MSU head coach Tom Izzo felt overwhelmed.
"I was relieved," Izzo said of seeing Thomas without the ball in the final seconds.
Overall, the Buckeyes' star player was 10 of 20 overall and made 6 of 11 3-pointers. And just for good measure, Thomas sank two free throws to boot.
"I was knocking down shots all night," Thomas said of his best-ever effort in Big Ten play.
Being no slouch himself, Michigan State's own Keith Appling added 15 points on the night, including two free throws in the final 7.9 seconds of the game to seal the win in front of a packed Izzone crowd. Also marking a solid performance was that of MSU center Areian Payne, who netted 14 points of his own in the victory.
It was a close call, and certainly seemed like it could have gone either way at the end, but a commanding performance from some of Michigan State's key players helped to insure the Spartans came out on top in one of their toughest Big Ten match ups so far this season. When all is said and done, even Ohio State head coach Thad Matta knows what he saw Saturday night was truly unique.
"You've got what I would consider -- I don't want to step out of bounds -- two of the top college basketball programs going head to head," Matta said. "I've brought some great teams in here."
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