Spartan Pretenders? Spartans Fall to Ohio State 74-67

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Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

 

It was a long and frustrating day for Coach Izzo and Ed Hightower wasn't a part of it.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

It was a long and frustrating day for Coach Izzo and Ed Hightower wasn't a part of it. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Tom Izzo said earlier in the week that we would find out today if the Spartans were pretenders or contenders. I am not sure that I am willing to say that when they could still win a share of the Big Ten title one week from today at Purdue. Either way Izzo said it and he got an answer.

 

If you have watched the Buckeyes this season then you know the way to beat them is to run them. They only play six players with any regularity and four of them played ALL forty minutes today.

 

With a bench that can go eleven deep the Spartans knew that is what they had to do. Izzo said it himself. They had to use their depth to make this a fast game and not let the Buckeyes catch their breath. The Spartans didn’t get the memo.

 

Tom Izzo said after the game, “Our game plan was to run and run and run and I don’t think we did at all.”

 

They didn’t have their customarily slow start. They weren’t plagued with turnovers. They started fast, went cold, got back in it and went cold again. Not a winning formula.

 

The Spartans had the advantage in fast break points 10-2, but could have had more. A lot more. Instead they tried to be a jump shooting team rather than drive to the basket team (as Izzo said) when they got back in it, and they played right into the Buckeyes hand.”

 

A visibly frustrated Izzo said after the game, “Well I guess disappointment would be a foolish term right now…. I am beside myself on why we didn’t play like our game plan. They (his shooters) were jacking shots and we kept telling them to go inside”

 

Chris Allen acknowledged his coach trying to get them to go inside, “We were trying to punch it in and it wasn’t there. We would come off the screen and the shot was open.”

 

What is the mindset of this team? “When we have a lead we have to learn to build on them and not sit on them,” was how Durrell Summers described his team’s performance.

 

Buckeye head coach Thad Matta said, “We didn’t get off to a great start. The defense from the fourteen minute mark down they really stepped up the energy.”

 

The Spartans were out rebounded 41-38 and that isn���t how MSU wins. Captain Raymar Morgan told me after the game, “We just didn’t finish it out.” 

 

After Izzo called out the fans the prior to the Purdue game they have responded for him in an amazing way the last two games. Sadly his team hasn’t. Izzo gave credit to them, “Our fans were unbelievable again.” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta agreed, “This place was electric tonight.”

 

Kalin Lucas had nine points and eight assists.

Raymar Morgan had fourteen rebounds and nine points.

Chris Allen had 11 points.

Durrell Summers had 16 points.

Draymond Green had 11 points.

 

The Spartans don’t play until next Sunday at 4 p.m. in a nationally televised game on CBS at Purdue. A win there would give the Spartans a share of the Big Ten title.

 

This team isn’t tough. I know that it is borderline heresy to say of a Izzo coached team, but it isn’t. What once was a sure thing (a Big Ten Title) is now only a mere dream. Can they win? Yes. Will they? They way they are playing not a chance. This team looks like a championship basketball team physically, but do not have it mentally. I am not talking about intelligence I am talking about toughness.

 

They need to be more worried about getting blown out in seven days than winning a title.

 

When you need a highly talented group of young men to all play their best game for you to win next Sunday, and they haven’t 28 games in, it seems only like a dream. A very far-fetched dream.