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Associated Press
Michigan State’s Branden Dawson works to keep the ball away from Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas during the first half.

Spartans hold off Buckeyes

– Deshaun Thomas was so good he made Michigan State’s Tom Izzo want to do something the coach said he has “never” done.

If Ohio State’s star got the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to make an overtime-forcing three-pointer, Izzo wanted the Spartans to foul him.

Shannon Scott, though, didn’t give Thomas one more shot and that helped No. 18 Michigan State beat the 11th-ranked Buckeyes 59-56 Saturday night.

“I was relieved,” Izzo acknowledged.

Keith Appling scored 15 points, including two free throws with 7.9 seconds left, and Adreian Payne added 14 as part of a relatively balanced offense against a one-man show.

Thomas, a Bishop Luers grad, scored 28 points, his most in Big Ten play. He was 10 of 20 overall, made 6 of 11 three-pointers and connected on his two free throws.

The junior forward was upset Scott didn’t pass him the ball to potentially tie the game before the buzzer.

“I was knocking down shots all night,” Thomas said.

Scott put up an off-balanced shot with just under 4 seconds left and his attempt hit the side of the backboard.

“I did think (Thomas) was going to get the ball,” Payne said. “I was trailing him, but the other guy fired it up.”

Ohio State coach Thad Matta called a timeout after Appling’s lead-padding free throws and anticipated Michigan State fouling to prevent a three-point attempt.

When the hack didn’t come, Scott seemed to be surprised and hurried a shot.

“Michigan State knew we were going to go to (Thomas),” Matta said. “We would’ve liked to have got it to him there.”

Scott probably wished he had passed the ball, too, as hid his face under his jersey.

“You could see that he put his head down,” Thomas said.

The Spartans (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) are on their way up in the conference standings, winning five straight conference games.

Michigan State’s Branden Dawson scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Gary Harris and Derrick Nix each added eight points.

Ohio State (13-4, 3-2) was playing for the first time since handing Michigan its only loss last Sunday.

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.

“You’d like to have everyone in double figures, but (Thomas) was smooth and efficient and it was a tremendous effort by him,” Matta said.

NEBRASKA 68, PENN STATE 64: At State College, Pa., Shavon Shields scored a career-high 29 points, Ray Gallegos had 15 points to help the Huskers (10-9, 1-5 Big Ten) escape with the victory.

Penn State trailed by three points with 24 seconds left before Nebraska’s Brandon Ubel was called for a flagrant foul on D.J. Newbill. The foul gave Penn State two extra free throws. Newbill made one of two free throws and Ross Travis missed the next two from the line. Newbill failed to convert on two more free throws in the final 14 seconds.

Jermaine Marshall scored all of his 18 points in the second half for Penn State (8-10, 0-6).

IOWA 70, WISCONSIN 66: In Iowa City, Iowa, Aaron White scored 17 points as the Hawkeyes knocked the Badgers out of first place in the Big Ten.

Devyn Marble added 13 for the Hawkeyes, which picked up their biggest win of the season on the 20th anniversary of the death of former player Chris Street.

Iowa (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) jumped ahead by 20 points late in the first half and held off a late charge by the Badgers (13-5, 4-1), who beat No. 2 Indiana 64-59 on Tuesday.

George Marshall had 20 points, all in the second half, but the Badgers became the last Big Ten team to lose a league game. Wisconsin fell a half of a game behind Michigan State in the standings with the loss.