Michigan State Spartans Play Like the Team We All thought They Would Be: Dismantle Northwestern 67-51
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
The Michigan State Spartans entered tonight’s Big Ten tournament tonight with Tom Izzo announcing earlier in the week that, “This is the biggest Big Ten tournament of my career.” They played like it downing the Northwestern for the third time this season 67 to 51.
Izzo said of the tilt that, “Confidence and rhythm, those are the two words I would use to describe this game. I think we are starting to get those back.”
The Spartan locker room had a business approach. They had beaten the Cats by 14 and 15 previously this year so there wasn’t a sense of euphoria that usually accompanies a tournament win. What they did have was confidence. They saw a glimpse of what they used to be and they liked it.
Star F Branden Dawson looked like the player Izzo recruited. He was a monster impacting the game in every way. He finished the night with nine boards, six assists and 16 points making Denzel Valentine declare, “If he (BJ) is playing like that it takes a lot of pressure off od all of and we can be a great team.”
Matt Costello said that when Dawson played like he did, “We are a national championship team. “ Adreian Payne added, “I agree. We are scary when it all falls together.” Even soft spoken star Gary Harris admitted that when Dawson is playing like he did here tonight, “We can make the championship.”
In the locker room Izzo was not as optimistic publicly, but did admit, “This team is starting to come back.” He was wearing a giant smile when he said it.
The star of this game spoke and had a lot to say. He said, “I definitely felt different out there, and like Coach said, when you work on things, you just see results. I felt good out there, and my teammates have been telling me in practice we need more out of you. We just need you running, bringing energy, and just crashing the boards, and that’s what I did tonight. I stayed solid and didn’t rush anything, and it turned out good.”
The normally glass half empty Izzo wanted to gush about his star and he did. “You know, it’s kind of strange, I told him (BJ) God might have taken his hand away, but he gave him a jump shot. He’s actually been shooting the ball so much better since he’s come back, it kind of reminds me of my golf game. When you come back and you’re just concentrating, you do it real well early. And I think he’s concentrating harder on the form of his shot because everything is not perfect, and it’s helped him.
Don’t kid yourself; the difference in Branden was his energy and his defense. And then he made things happen on the break, and he did hit a couple nice shots. But I think he felt better about himself because he did other things better. He was a big key. I mean, he was switching, talking, he was covering up for people. I think that was one of the”