East Lansing, MI
If you are a fan of good basketball, you probably didn’t like this game. If you are a Spartan fan you loved it. Playing the best hustle basketball of the year, Michigan State deposed of Tom Izzo’s arch nemesis Bo Ryan tonight 58-43.
It wasn’t pretty and it was painful at times, but Izzo said it best coming off of a three game losing streak and facing Wisconsin is not an easy task. Izzo said, “I don’t know if it is enjoyment to relief.”
Izzo was pleased with his defense as the Spartans held Wisconsin to only 29% shooting from the field. MSU also out rebounded the Badgers 42-40 and had only 10 turnovers compared with Wisconsin’s 17. “I thought our defense was unbelievable. We hung in there and did a lot of good things defensively.”
Bo Ryan’s Badgers held Izzo’s Spartans to only 36% shooting for the game. That is something that has to drive the Badgers coach crazy when he looks at the stat sheet and sees that he lost. “I would say when I go back and watch the film I will like the shots (that MSU took). We actually got more free throws than them and that is rare. I thought both teams defensively were working hard.”
This loss takes the Badgers out of the Big Ten race, but with an overachieving team Bo Ryan wasn’t down on his guys. “With this team and what they have done I am not trading them.”
Izzo was very simple after the win. After watching his point guard Keith Appling finally improve his play Izzo couldn’t hide his emotion. Appling had 19 points and five boards and Izzo summed it up nicely. “Seeing Keith smile really made my day. I am just pleased with the win”
The stat sheet and the score may not scream that this was an epic game; I already admitted it was ugly. For Izzo the hustle of his team is what he craves. When Adreian Payne’s emotional play saw him on the floor and all over it ending with a timeout Izzo erupted of the bench to maul his big with hugs and raw emotion.
Izzo’s broad U.P. smile was all over his face when asked to describe that moment. “Those of you guys that know him, well, it is fun to see someone grow as a person. He would have never done that as a freshman. That kind of reminds me of the teams I used to have.”
So it all comes down to this. On Sunday prior to the MSU game Michigan takes on Indiana. If the Wolverines win Michigan State will clinch a share of the Big Ten title if they beat Northwestern. That game tips at 6 PM and can be seen on BTN.
Izzo said of still being in the chase for a title, “I said it at the beginning of the year, I said I thought four losses could win it, and we are barking up that tree right now, it might even be worse. But it doesn’t totally surprise me because there are so many good teams and so we were going to beat the daylights out of each other and then the one-plays comes into effect and who’s playing who twice and who’s playing who once.”
He went on to say, “It’s my dream that this program is to the point where every year in the last week, week and a half, last two, three games, we still have a mathematical chance to win a championship. The only sad part for me is we had a chance to have destiny in our own hands and we didn’t take care of that, and so I’m pretty comfortable with feeling. What happens, happens. I mean that because we had our chance to do it and yet, I heard LeBron James say last night ‘some times in long streaks, you’ve got to get a little lucky,’ so we’ll see if we’re lucky or unlucky.”