The best kept secret in the Big Ten is also the best team in the Big Ten.
Jason Klein scored a career-high 25 points as No. 16 Michigan State moved to their best start ever in the Big Ten with an 84-58 victory over beleaguered Ohio State on Wednesday night.
"I guess you can add me to the growing list of coaches who have seen Michigan State play and have been impressed with them," Ohio State's Jim O'Brien said. "They are a tremendous basketball team. They do a lot of great things. One of the big things is their depth. They bring it to you for 40 minutes. And they are hungry - very, very hungry."
The first-place Spartans (16-4) moved to 9-1 in the Big Ten, their best record through 10 games since joining the conference in 1950-51. It was their seventh straight win and 12th in the last 13 games.
By contrast, the loss was the 11th in a row for Ohio State (7-14, 0-8), extending the longest losing streak in the school's 99 years playing the sport. It was also the Buckeyes' 14th Big Ten loss in a row, extending another school record.
The 26-point loss tied the third largest margin ever for Ohio State at home.
For those who haven't been paying attention, the Spartans are much more than streak-shooting point guard Mateen Cleaves.
"It seems like every day somebody comes out the woodwork," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
This time it was Klein, a junior who had never before scored more than 17 points.
"Mateen has shouldered most of the load all year," Klein said. ``Now there are other guys."
Klein had 14 points as Michigan State built a 45-31 halftime lead, then scored the first four points of the second half on two foul shots and a 15-foot jumper after he was intentionally fouled on a fast break.
Klein, averaging 10.6 points a game, was 10-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range. He also had five rebounds and an assist. Morris Peterson added 10 points for the Spartans.
"Coach told me to shoot the ball, shoot the ball," Klein said. "And Mateen did a great job of distributing the ball."
Freshman Michael Redd, leading the Big Ten in scoring, topped Ohio State with 23 points but was just 7-of-17 from the field and 9-of-16 at the foul line. Ken Johnson added a career-high 14 points.
Ohio State drew to 19-17 on Neshaun Coleman's tip-in at the 10:57 mark of the first half, but Michigan State scored eight of the next 10 points - four by Klein on short jumpers - to bump the lead to 27-19.
The Buckeyes got as close as 31-26 before Klein had a tip-in and a fastbreak basket. The lead never dropped below seven points again.
Michigan State then scored the final seven points of the half and the first four of the second half. Most of the crowd of 10,626 left before the finish.
The victory was Michigan State's seventh on the road this season.
"Guys are talking a lot about leadership when we go on the road," said Cleaves, who had almost as many asists (six) as points (seven). "You get to be close as a team and right now we're family."
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