Coral Gables, Fla.
There’s rarely any shame in losing on the road against an ACC team.
Michigan State has done it before, and when it comes at places like Duke and North Carolina, it comes with some sort of understanding that you just lost to a pretty good team.
But on Wednesday at the BankUnited Center in the campus of the University of Miami, Michigan State left with a loss that was hard to stomach.
The 67-59 score was tough enough, but the fact Miami is a team that lost earlier this season to Florida Gulf Coast rubs a bit of salt into the Spartans’ wound.
Perhaps the only people more surprised than Tom Izzo and his coaching staff were the hundreds of Hurricanes fans who stormed the floor at the buzzer.
“Give Miami a lot of credit,” Izzo said. “They executed pretty well. It was just a frustrating and disappointing game for us because we didn’t do some of the things we wanted to do.”
There was little doubt of that from the outset.
It turns out it was Miami that did everything it wanted to do, from abusing the Michigan State defense on high ball screens to burying 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
The quickness of the Miami guards was far too much for the Spartans to handle and it led to a second-half meltdown.
Miami opened the second half on a 14-2 run, shot 9-for-16 from 3-point range and upset No. 13 Michigan State, 67-59in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“We weren’t covering the ball screen on top,” Izzo said. “The guy kept turning the corner, turning the corner. It was just ridiculous how we worked on it and what we did (in the game), but that’s what happens.”
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne both did not play well for the Spartans (5-2) and often left their fellow defenders out to dry.
“One guy makes a mistake on top and the guy gets the open three,” Izzo said. “You’re looking at the guy guarding the guy and it was really what happened up on top that was the difference. We did a poor job all night.”
Nix knew the deal afterward and laid the blame squarely on himself and Payne.
“Honestly, me and Payne cost us the game,” he said. “That’s just what it is. We didn’t get enough out of me and him.”
It was such a poor performance, Izzo indicated that his hopes of playing the two together might have to be abandoned.
“Maybe my experiment of playing with two bigs is about to be over,” Izzo said.
Trey McKinney Jones was 5-for-7 from 3-point range and scored 18 points for the Hurricanes (4-1) while Durand Scott and Shane Larkin each added 15 points.
Miami came into the game shooting only 34 percent from 3-point range but shot 56.3 percent on Wednesday. That shooting broke open a close game at halftime.
Michigan State had chances to cut the lead in the second half, but a missed dunk by Payne followed by a triple from Jones pushed the lead back to 10 late in the game.
“We just did not do a good job on that,” Izzo said.
Keith Appling score 15 points to lead the Spartans, but he was just 6-for-13 from the field and looked tired by the end of the game..
Gary Harris was back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a sprained left shoulder. He scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Spartans while Branden Dawson added 11 points, though he committed five turnovers.
“We’re gonna get better once we get home and get our rotation down,” Izzo said. “I still like where we have a chance to go, I sure don’t like where we’re at right now.”