It's 'Gut-Check' Time for Michigan State Basketball

After starting conference play 0-3 for the first time since 2001-02, a team captain says it's 'gut-check' time for Michigan State.
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What's going on with Michigan State basketball?

A team competing for its fourth consecutive Big Ten regular season title can't look this bad, right?

Yet, the inept offense and miscommunication on defense are very real.

MSU started 4-for-31 from the field, including stretches where the Spartans missed four, five, and 12 consecutive shots.

"I think going forward, we gotta have a gut-check," Junior captain Foster Loyer told reporters after the game. "We gotta have a realization that we gotta make some changes ... as a captain, it's my job, and it's our job to realize we're three games into the Big Ten. We have 17 to go."

At this point, it's difficult to say if the offense or defense is worse. Yes, the Spartans totaled sixteen points, nearly tying MSU's lowest-scoring half since 2014, when it scored an embarrassing 14 against Maryland, but Minnesota did what they wanted.

And had they shot better, Michigan State may have lost by much more than 25.

But it's not just the losses; the Spartans look out of sorts, with no real identity and in desperate need of a point guard.

Tom Izzo cleared up his decision to bench Aaron Henry by revealing Rocket Watts "hasn't been comfortable at the one."

It's for the best.

Watts is better off-ball, and Michigan State needs him to step up and be the scorer without the presser of running an offense.

The transition was always going to take time, but the mistakes are glaring, and his struggles are affecting the rest of the team. 

MSU needs someone to create for others and get the ball in the right places because too much is being generated from individuals, making the Spartans easy to guard.

They lack everything Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman Sr. left behind.

Michigan State doesn't have a 'go-to' guy, nor can they rely on a leader defensively.

When Izzo begins the first eight-minutes inserting two freshmen in AJ Hoggard and Mady Sissoko, it's clear he's searching for rotations that work.

The remedy requires latching on to the basic standards of MSU basketball: playing hard-nosed defense, rebounding, and running in transition.

"We're not going to be defeated. We're not going to give up on ourselves," said Loyer. "We're going to go back, watch our film and learn what we need to fix."

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