Michigan State Upsets No. 4 Ohio State for 2nd Straight Win vs. Top-5 Opponent

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IFebruary 26, 2021

Michigan State forward Aaron Henry plays during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Their second top-five opponent in three days proved to be no problem for Michigan State as the Spartans defeated No. 4 Ohio State, 71-67, on Thursday night. 

The win, which brought the Spartans up to 13-9 on the season amid a three-game winning streak, came after the team upended No. 5 Illinois, 81-72 on Tuesday.

Aaron Henry paced Michigan State with 18 points, while Gabe Brown was the only other Spartan to record double digits with 11 points. EJ Liddell tacked on 18 for Ohio State, which drops to 18-6. 

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was assessed a pair of technical fouls and was thrown out with seconds left to play as the Spartans closed in on the win, and the Buckeyes earned their second loss of the week. 

They were coming off of a 92-87 loss to No. 3 Michigan on Sunday.

Michigan State took the lead with 2:32 left to play on a free throw from Malik Hall, their first lead since the first seven minutes of the game, when they held a 15-13 advantage.

The Spartans used a 13-6 run in the final five minutes to seal the game. 

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Both teams were called for 21 fouls, but Michigan State shot 76 percent from the line, scoring 19 points off of free throws compared to 17 from Ohio State for a slight edge. They also shot 48 percent from the field, proving slightly more consistent than the 44.2 percent from OSU. 

Ohio State will need to use its final two games of the season to ensure a higher seed heading into March, but they'll need to step it up. To close out the season, the Buckeyes will face No. 9 Iowa and end the year with No. 5 Illinois, both of whom they've defeated already this year.

As for the Spartans, they'll have the opportunity to improve their March Madness stock with a pair of games against Maryland and Indiana before closing the season with two games against Michigan.

They've been buried in a tough Big Ten conference during the regular season, but Thursday's game was a major win in their quest to compete next month.