Spartans sweep Buckeyes on Senior Day


Sarah Smith

The Michigan State Spartans get ready to take the court ahead of their game against Indiana on February 21, 2023. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Luca Melloni, Sports Editor

EAST LANSING – It was a bittersweet moment at the Breslin Center Saturday afternoon. The Spartans closed the Big Ten season with an 84-78 win over Ohio State and the Breslin crowd honored its graduating seniors Jason Whitens, Tyson Walker and Malik Hall after the game. 

Junior guard A.J. Hoggard led the charge with 23 points on 54% shooting while the whole team shot an efficient 54.7% from the floor and 60% from three-point range. 

“We still have some work to do,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “If we’re shooting the ball this good, we should be able to regain our defense because we’ve been there already for two-thirds of this year.” 

This was the fourth-straight game that the Spartans shot over 45% from deep but it was also the third game in the last five where MSU gave up more than 70 points. 

The game started with a strong dunk by Hall who received the give-and-go alley-oop pass by Hoggard. In his last game against Nebraska, Hoggard set a career-high 14 assists in the win over the Cornhuskers. 

Hall, who ended the night with 10 points, played with an ongoing back injury, according to Izzo. 

“Our guard play has been getting better and better,” Izzo said. “You need good guard play and you need to be able to defend to win in any kind of tournament scenario.”

Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate Brice Sensabaugh scored 21 points for the Buckeyes and recorded five rebounds while only turning the ball over twice. Throughout the season, Sensabaugh is averaging 16.5 points per game on 48% shooting. 

“[They’ve] played their best basketball in the last four games,” Izzo said. “Their freshmen have been really good.” 

Michigan State went on a run after sophomore Jaden Akins scored nine points in his first nine minutes played, making it 35-26 with 3:00 remaining. Akins ended the day with 13 points and zero turnovers. 

The Spartans went into halftime with a 43-34 lead over the Buckeyes. 

“We did a pretty good job in the first half. We were running,” Izzo said. “In the second half, we just didn’t do as good a job.” 

To start the second half, Tyson Walker hit a long-range three-pointer to extend the lead by eight points. Walker slowed down in this game with 15 points after recording a career-high 31 points against Iowa on Feb. 25.  

After the game, fans chanted “one more year” at Walker during his Senior Day presentation, hoping the prolific scorer will come back to East Lansing after the conclusion of this season.

“I think this team has a chance to make a run,” Izzo said. “You can be good but it comes down to matchups in these tournaments.” 

The Buckeyes made it a one-possession game midway through the second half after Bruce Thorton made a three-pointer that had OSU trailing 64-67. 

A series of free throws by Hoggard with 1:26 left in the game put the contest out of reach for OSU as the Spartans secured an 84-78 win. The seniors subbed off the court in the final seconds as they kissed the Spartan logo at half court and made their way out.

With the win over the Buckeyes, the Spartans put themselves in a promising position to end as a four-seed if other results go their way on Sunday night.

“We could be a three-seed or a 10-seed,” Izzo said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s incredible.”