Tired and Exhausted the Michigan State Spartans, â€œGot Beat By A Better Team,â€ in Arch Rival Michigan 79-70
Ann Arbor, MI
The Michigan State Spartans came into Crisler Arena today with a chance to move ahead in the race for a Big Ten title and in Head Coach Tom Izzoâ€™s words, â€œWe got beat by a better team.â€ The Spartans fell 79-70, getting swept in the regular season by Michigan.
The Spartans shot 54%. A frustrated Izzo declared, â€œItâ€™s a strange game when you go to your rivals and shoot 54% and 40 (%) from the three and lose.â€ It left the befuddled Izzo saying, â€œWe have become too much of an offensive team.â€
Izzo was his usual blunt saying, â€œ54% is good enough to win, we just didnâ€™t defend.â€
The stat of the game was simple. The Spartans had 13 turnovers and the Wolverines had three and when the dust settled UM had 14 points off of MSU turnovers and the Spartans had zero, zilch, nada. Izzo said, â€œ14-0 was the difference in the game.â€
Tom Izzoâ€™s team looked lethargic for much of the second half and if you are a human with any heart, you felt for Adreian Payne who literally looked like he was dragging his body up and down the court. Payne played 31 minutes and had 12 points and 11 boards, but was exhausted.
Izzo declared, â€œHe looked dead to me.â€ Izzo also said, â€œWe looked like a tired team and I donâ€™t know why.â€
UM head coach John Beilein was asked to comment on how the Spartans looked to be dragging from exhaustion, but the Wolverines seemed infused with energy. He simply said, â€œOur guys seemed to have a lot of bounce and I wonâ€™t comment on how Michigan State was.â€
He added about the Spartans senior big man that, â€œAdreian Payne is a load in every way. You have to beat Michigan State if you want to win a championship.â€
It was Beilein who was gushing after the game. He stated with great respect for Izzo and the Spartans that, â€œItâ€™s a great win because of who we beat. They have great coaching; great players and they have been great for decades. For us to beat them is a terrific accomplishment. When you measure yourself against a great program like that itâ€™s a great accomplishment.â€
John Beilein put on a coaching clinic. He made several adjustments including switching from man to man into a zone that confused the tired Spartans. Beilein admitted he hates the zone but that, â€œTom (Izzo) is so great coming out of the time out (drawing up plays) that we thought we had to make them think.â€
But both coaches think injuries for the Spartans are what is holding them back. Keith Appling is playing again, but not close to healthy. Izzo was at his apex of post-game frustration when asked if Keith was healthy. He said, â€œKeith is not 100%, heâ€™s not 80%.â€ When asked if Appling played too many minutes (he had 25) Izzo said, â€œNope. I was going with my guy, of course his wrist is still bothering him.â€
Even Beilein said, â€œLetâ€™s not forget Dawson wasnâ€™t in the game today.â€ A fair point, but neither was the Wolverines Mitch McGary who is a game changer and a certain NBA first round pick next season. Something Dawson is NOT at this point.
Izzo stated for weeks while his team has been a M*A*S*H* unit that it is not just getting players back, it is then a process of them relearning how to play together. He knows what he has if healthy and he said, â€œI still think if we can not be normal and make a run.â€
The Spartans are tied in the B1G race simply on technicality. MSU is now 22-6 (11-4) and the Wolverines are 19-7 (11-3) and the Spartans have only three conference games left compared to Beileinâ€™s four.
The Spartans return to the hardwood at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center on Saturday night for a 4 PM tip with the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois. You can see that game on ESPN.