The green and white faithful were hoping that Sunday's match up between Michigan State and the unranked Ohio State Buckeyes would be an opportunity for the Spartans to take one last step forward before the Big Ten Tournament and the upcoming Big Dance.
Instead, what they got was more of the same... and the same is not good.
Once again, it was turnovers that finally put the nail in the coffin for Michigan State, especially down the line, as the Spartans fell 69-67 in the final moments to Ohio State down in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.
In fact, the turnover machine was running on full tilt, especially in the final two minutes, when MSU turned the ball over a grand total of 5 times in their last 9 possessions. Even as player after player for Ohio State missed free throw after free throw, giving the Spartans a chance to take the lead and win the game, Michigan State was incapable of keeping their hands on the ball.
As the final seconds rolled off the clock, top senior for OSU, Aaron Craft, grabbed a lose ball after Gary Harris missed a two-point shot to tie the game and gave his team the win. Craft was playing in his final game in Value City Arena for the Buckeyes, and to go out on top with the final move to seal the win, is something that only dreams are made of.
"Probably the poetic justice way to end the game was the way he did it," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I give him a lot of credit for that."
Izzo, for his own part, looked completely dejected throughout the final minutes of the game. Head in hand at some points, you could sense how painful it was for not only Izzo, but all of Spartan Nation, to watch the once-mighty Michigan State (who was top-ranked in the nation early in the season) crumble and fall.
Still, Izzo wasn't ready to call the whole thing as a total loss (perhaps out some some misplaced hope).
"I didn't like the way all my guys were on the bench," Izzo said. "I didn't like the way we were playing, afraid to foul and afraid to move. We scored enough points to win, we shot well enough to win. They drove the ball and we couldn't keep them in front of us. But I've got two of my best defenders on the bench. There were some bright spots, but a disappointing loss."
Bright spots aside, if Michigan State plays like this in the Big Ten Tourney and the Big Dance, as well, there won't be many bright spots to bring up then, either.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.