We have now reached the point of the basketball season where we often hear the phrase, â€œsurvive and advance.â€ Â Tonight the Michigan State Spartans decided to change that saying to â€œthrive and advanceâ€ as they overcame a slow start to destroy the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers by a score of 62-34. With the victory the Spartans cut their magic number for a share of the Big Ten title to one with two games remaining.
The following quote sums up tonightâ€™s game: â€œGive them nothing! But take from them everything!â€ The Spartans shot 59 % for the game while holding the Cornhuskers to 29 %. They also held a plus 13 advantage on the boards. With a final score of 62-34, do you really need a bunch of stats to see that the Spartans smacked Nebraska around silly? One stat that stood out as odd was the fact Michigan State only had two offensive rebounds but still won by 28 points.
Afterwards Coach Izzo stated, â€œOther than Draymond no one really had a big game, turned it over a little too much, but we shot awfully well and I guess it was a good win to put in the books and weâ€™ll move on.â€
To their credit The Cornhuskers gave their best effort and battled hard. Nebraska coach Doc Sadler had the sense his team would have trouble with the Spartans. Â â€œWe were going to have to a lot of things right to have a chance. And we did some good things, but we didnâ€™t do enough of it.â€
Â Once again Draymond Green led the Spartans with 20 pts, 10 rebounds and three steals. Â With the ten rebounds Green became the fourth Spartan ever to have 1,000 rebounds for his career. When speaking about joining the exclusive club Green added, â€œThat means a lot to me, rebounding is a complete effort category, thatâ€™s what this program has been built on. To reach a category like that with greats like Johnny Green and Greg Kelser means a lot to me.
At Midnight Madness Draymond Green came out to the song ��€œI m a Bossâ€ by Rick Ross and he has done nothing to disprove the fact that he is the â€œbossâ€ this season.Â Mr. Delany why even wait? Tell the people who engrave the trophy for the Big Ten Player of the year that itâ€™s spelled D-r-a-y-m-o-n-d.
Izzo had this to say about his senior captain joining the 1000 rebound club: â€œThatâ€™s a very small club and one that I m glad he got to celebrate with our fans, it meant a lot to him. I was happy when he got that last rebound.â€
Followers of Derrick Nix will know the meaning to the statement â€œR.I.P. to the Competition.â€ The fan favorite did his best to make sure we would see that tweet tonight by chipping in five points and five rebounds. He also brought the crowd to its feet with a steal and a two handed dunk on the break. What is most impressive is that he finished with a career high five assists. After the game when asked about the career high in assists Nix said, â€œI thought I had more but five is enough. If you keep feeding it to me, I m going to keep getting back out for open threeâ€™s. Â I always think a three is better than a two.â€
After the game Izzo had some kind words to say about Nixâ€™s performance saying, â€œHeâ€™s so unselfish to a fault. I thought Nix played one of his best overall games.â€
One of the best signs of the night was the play of Russell Byrd. He came off the bench to knock down two three pointers on the way to finishing with six points. With as much trouble as the zone has gave the Spartans of late Byrd could provide a major lift down the road if he continues to shoot like he did tonight.
Izzo was right when he mentioned no other player stood out stat wise other than Green. The second leading scorer on the team was Austin Thornton with nine points, which were all from beyond the arc. I can imagine that when Austin is shooting well there are many Spartan fans who feel good about the chances for a long run in March.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Star Freshmen Branden Dawson broke open the game for good with a crowd pleasing dunk. Listening to him talk after the game, it stood out how excited he was about being so close to a Big Ten Championship. â€œ During the preseason we were not ranked, to number six to winning the Big Ten, that would be great for this program.â€
Pardon me while I have flashbacks to Raymar Morgan with authority in 2009 but the Spartans look to clinch a share of the Big Ten title Tuesday night in Bloomington, Indiana when they take on the Hoosiers led by Tom Crean. On December 28th the Spartans backed by the Izzone alumni beat the Hoosiers 80-65. Playing at Indiana will be totally different monster. Unless I miss my guess, we're in for one wild night. Make sure you visit Spartan Nation for coverage of Michigan State athletics. I leave you with the following wordsâ€¦
On Tuesday Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For that night, we dine in Bloomington!