Spartans Embarrassed at Home Against Purdue and Fall 76-64

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Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

 

A frustrated Draymond Green didn't hide his anger at the Spartans performance.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

A frustrated Draymond Green didn't hide his anger at the Spartans performance. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t what folks expected, but tonight the Spartans got embarrassed on their home court. There is no shame in losing to Purdue. The embarrassment was how they played. They are a very good basketball team, but in a game that Izzo put a big bulls eye on the fan’s backs, they showed up and he and his team didn’t.

 

He admitted it, “If I had motivated the players as much as the crowd…we just didn’t bring it.”

 

I am not attacking Izzo, but he has said often that he doesn’t care if guys talk as long as they produce. He called the crowd out, they did their part and the Spartans didn’t. Lackadaisical defense, poor shooting and for many of the stars a disappearing act that would have made Harry Houdini proud was the best way to describe this loss.

 

Izzo said of his stars disappearance, “This is when players have to make a decision. The cheering was first class, the coaching wasn’t very good…I struggle with effort related things and they are jogging back on defense…that is effort related and unacceptable.”

The Spartans were ran out of their building on a night when the crowd was the best they have been all year and the atmosphere was ripe for a Spartan win, but they didn’t get the memo. Purdue Coach Matt Painter said of the atmosphere, “This is one of the best places in the country to play…this is an unbelievable place to get a win.”

 

With 11:18 to go in the game the Spartans were down 11 after a nice shot by Delvon Roe and the Breslin Center’s entire lower bowl stood with exuberance and decibels not heard in this building all season. Throughout the entire time out the fans cheered so loud my ears hurt and Roe obliged by making the free throw to move the Spartans to within ten. Still, the Spartans couldn’t capitalize against a much better Purdue team.

 

This loss raises a lot of questions for the Spartans, not the least of which is what once looked like a sure Big Ten title faintly drifting off to West Lafayette. How can star players simply disappear?  How can they finally get a fast start? How can they stop giving away the basketball like it’s candy? They only had nine turnovers tonight, but it has dogged them all year. 

 

This team has lost its identity. They have allowed teams to drive the lane, score inside and the once proud trophy of team toughness and defensive prowess is gone. Purdue shot 57% and made 91% of their free throws. Izzo said of his defense, “For some reason we haven’t checked in three games.”

 

I believe what has been said numerous times in sports, that you are what your record says you are, but this team is better than the last three games. So what has happened?

 

There is no doubt we have a great coach. No doubt that we have a great group of talented and high character players and if you were in the building tonight there was no doubt about this fan base. What has happened?

 

I would say Kalin’s injury, but this meltdown had already started the moment they got off the plan in Madison last week, long before he was injured in the second half. Raymar missed a dunk and Korie a lay up right in a row that would have given the Spartans a second half lead, but that still isn’t it.

 

This team lost tonight. It wasn’t the refs. It wasn’t the crowd; they went up against a better team and got schooled. This rests on all of them. They are a good basketball team. They are not elite and something starting with the plane ride to Madison happened.

 

So what was it? This team is in danger of quickly going from running away with a title to falling out of contention for it and watching a one promising season fade away to mediocrity. The sky hasn’t fallen, they are still 19-6 (9-3) in the Big Ten, but they have to rebound fast.

 

The mystique is gone. They are beatable and teams now know how to do it. With a win at Purdue you can erase this loss. Essentially the league is tied up and they will get their tournament bid for sure. This time Izzo has to dig into his magic bag and fix the problem. They have to get back to Pure Michigan…State basketball.

 

This isn’t it.

 

Raymar Morgan 6 points

Delvon Roe 5 points

Durrell Summers 2 points

Draymond Green 6 points

 

Those stats say it all. 

 

I have said before that you always bet on Izzo. He has my complete support, but they have created a big obstacle and this team has yet to show the mental toughness to overcome any adversity that requires that type of mental toughness. They have no choice now.

 

Their dance card is punched, but the banners they crave aren’t a sure thing anymore. Now the once cakewalk is going to be a battle. The next few weeks are going to be a big fight…a Big Ten fight.