By LARRY LAGE/AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Keith Appling made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left and finished with 15 points to help No. 18 Michigan State beat No. 11 Ohio State 59-56 on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes had a chance to potentially tie the game in the closing seconds, but Shannon Scott didn’t come close on a running 3-point attempt.
Deshaun Thomas, who scored a career Big Ten-high 28 points, was upset Scott didn’t pass him the ball. Thomas wanted a shot to send the game into overtime after he had made six 3-pointers in regulation.
The Spartans (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) have won five straight conference games.
Ohio State (13-4, 3-2) was playing for the first time since handing Michigan its only loss last Sunday.
Thomas had half of Ohio State’s points, but the Big Ten’s leading scorer didn’t get the ball in his hands after a timeout called to set up a game-tying shot.
The Buckeyes’ second-leading scorer against the Spartans was Lenzelle Smith Jr., who had six points on 2-of-7 shooting. Aaron Craft, who was 2 of 8 from the field, was one of three Buckeyes with five points.
Michigan State’s Adreian Payne had 14 points, Branden Dawson scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Gary Harris and Derrick Nix each added eight points.
The Spartans were ahead by 11 points early in the first half and had a 46-39 lead midway through the second half.
Michigan State kept the lead until Thomas made a 3-pointer – his sixth of the game, two more than he’s ever had – to tie it at 50 with just less than 3 minutes left.
Payne had a three-point play on the ensuing possession, but got caught up in a one-on-one matchup with Thomas the next time Michigan State had the ball and Craft swiped the ball.
Craft then stole the ball from Appling and made a pass to Thomas, who was fouled and made two free throws to tie it again with 57.9 seconds left.
Appling went right back at Craft, beating him to the lane off the dribble to set up his go-ahead layup with 41.5 seconds to play.
The Buckeyes couldn’t connect on some 3-pointers in the final minute that could have given them the lead and one of the misses led to Appling’s dunk with 17 seconds left to put Michigan State ahead by four points. Smith did make a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to pull Ohio State within a point, but the Buckeyes needed to make one more to force overtime.
And, they didn’t give Thomas an opportunity to make it.
Michigan State got off to a great start with Nix scoring on a spin move and picking up a loose ball on the first possessions, helping the Spartans take a 10-0 lead.
Ohio State needed nearly 5 minutes to score, but made up for it with a 17-3 run that included Thomas making a go-ahead dunk with 8:32 left to help the Buckeyes take a four-point lead a couple minutes later in the first half.
Michigan State led 30-26 at halftime after scoring the last six points of the half.
The Buckeyes then didn’t waste any time getting the ball to Thomas more after halftime, leading to him making 3-pointers in both corners in the first 1:21 of the second half.
Smith made another 3-pointer to give Ohio State the lead and the Spartans responded with a 12-4 run to take a seven-point lead.
Michigan State made enough plays to beat the Buckeyes at home for a change. Ohio State has won four games at the Breslin Center since 2005-06 while the rest of the conference has combined for six wins in East Lansing.
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