Ohio State's Sam Thompson (12) goes up for a dunk over Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 59-56. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan State's Travis Trice, center, goes to the basket between Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate, left, and Amir Williams (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 59-56. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
EAST LANSING, Michigan — Ohio State needed to withstand one last Michigan State possession to force overtime. The Buckeyes closed off the area around the basket, but gave Denzel Valentine some space beyond the arc.
That's all he needed.
"Give Valentine credit — that was an incredible shot," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I thought we had them right where we wanted them in terms of how the action developed."
Valentine made a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining — on Feb. 14, no less — to give Michigan State a 59-56 victory over No. 23 Ohio State on Saturday. Sam Thompson had made a 3-pointer of his own for the Buckeyes, tying the game with 36 seconds left, but Michigan State patiently ran the clock down, and Valentine had room to shoot from to the right of the top of the key.
"I was ready to hit the shot," Valentine said. "I didn't want to go into another overtime."
Michigan State has gone to overtime five times this season, losing three of those games.
The Buckeyes (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit, and even after Valentine's big shot, Ohio State had a chance to send the game to overtime, but the Buckeyes lost the ball on the ensuing inbound pass.
Valentine finished with 17 points, going 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. Branden Dawson had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Michigan State.
Shannon Scott scored 15 points for the Buckeyes. Thompson, D'Angelo Russell and Jae'Sean Tate added 10 apiece.
Freshman Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn played 36 minutes for Michigan State, scoring seven points with five rebounds and four assists — including the pass to set up Valentine's winning shot. The Spartans went on a 15-2 run to close the first half, with Dawson punctuating that impressive stretch with a dunk off a pass from Travis Trice.
It was 33-24 at halftime. The Buckeyes began closing the gap in earnest toward the middle of the second half, tying it at 46 on a dunk by Thompson and taking a 49-47 lead on a jumper by Scott with 5:22 remaining.
Valentine's 3-pointer with 4:00 to play put the Spartans up by one, and a layup by Trice with 1:16 left gave Michigan State a 56-53 lead. Tate missed a 3 at the other end, but the Spartans (17-8, 8-4) couldn't secure the rebound. Thompson tied it with his first 3-pointer of the game.
Michigan State beat a Top 25 team for the first time in five tries this season. The Spartans lost by five to Kansas and in double overtime to Maryland, but this victory will certainly help their resume.
Neither team was called for a foul until there was 8:06 remaining in the first half — an odd start for a big game between two rivals. Maybe it was for the best that nobody went to shoot free throws for a while. Ohio State finished 5 of 13 from the line and Michigan State wasn't much better at 4 of 7.
"I don't know," Russell said. "We just had a tough time putting the ball in the basket."
DOWN TO THE WIRE
It was another tense finish between Ohio State and Michigan State. Of the last eight meetings between the teams, seven have been decided by four points or fewer.
"I think you can literally start your own classics channel from the last few years of Ohio State versus Michigan State games," Matta said. "The endings have been incredible."
Ohio State: The Buckeyes went 5 of 17 from 3-point range.
Michigan State: Former Spartans stars Draymond Green, Adreian Payne and Gary Harris were at the game, taking advantage of the NBA All-Star break.
Ohio State: At Michigan on Feb. 22.
Michigan State: At Michigan on Tuesday night.