Spartans return home after dropping two games on the road

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Nia Clouden/MSU Athletic Communications

Michigan State (17-8, 7-7 Big Ten) returns to East Lansing to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (12-12, 8-7 Big Ten) this Thursday at the Breslin Center at 6 p.m. as the Spartans look to get back in the win column.

The Spartans dropped their last two games, both road games, to Nebraska (12-14, 7-8 Big Ten) and Wisconsin (12-14, 3-11 Big Ten). The two losses now drop Michigan State to 3-7 on the road this season, very contrasting to its perfect 13-0 season at home.

The last time the Buckeyes and the Spartans met was back on Jan. 14 in Columbus, when the Buckeyes came out victorious 65-55. The 55 points scored was the lowest point total Michigan State has put up all season, surprising considering the team is second in the Big Ten in scoring.

Junior guard Shay Colley led the Spartans with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Carly Santoro led the Buckeyes and all scorers with 25 points to go along with four steals. Since then, the two teams have gone just above .500 as the Spartans have gone 5-4, and Ohio State has gone 6-4.

Michigan State is led by Colley, who has been the leading scorer for Michigan State in the last three games, including a season-high 32 points at home against Indiana. She’s now averaging 15.1 points per game and is second on the team in rebounds.

The Spartans will also look to Jenna Allen, who is averaging 12.9 points per game and just recently eclipsed 1,000 points in her career at MSU. She is the 27th Spartan to reach the mark. Michigan State is averaging 77.6 points per game as a team to the Buckeyes 61.8.

Ohio State will look to Santoro to score often against the Spartans. She is second in scoring on the team behind Dorka Juhasz, averaging 11.3 points per game. Juhasz is leading the Buckeyes with 12.1 points per game as well as 8.8 rebounds. The pair is the only two players on the team averaging double digits in points.

Juhasz was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week last week for the second time this season after averaging a double-double with 15 points per game and 14 rebounds per game. She helped the Buckeyes to two wins, including a win over No. 23 Rutgers.

Michigan State, as well as Rutgers, were the only teams to drop from the AP Top 25 in this week’s rankings. The Spartans sat at No. 24 last week, but after losing two in a row, dropped out of the rankings. They have not been unranked since week five, just before the Spartans defeated No. 3 Oregon. It’s now week 16 and the Spartans look to end the season on a high note with three of their last four games being at home.

Both teams sit in the middle of the Big Ten standings. The two-game slide has put Michigan State in the ninth spot in the conference, while Ohio State sits just above that in a four-team tie for fifth place. Ohio State and the three other teams only have a half-game advantage over the Spartans. With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the race in the middle of the Big Ten could stir up major implications for the conference tournament.

Ohio State and Michigan State look to make one last push as they head to the end of the season and into tournament time. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Breslin Center and can be found on the Big Ten Network.