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Tom Izzo Declares, "We Aren't Done Yet," As His Spartans Fall to OSU 71-61 Here in Columbus.


Garrick Sherman had a great night along with his fellow bigs Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Garrick Sherman had a great night along with his fellow bigs Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.


February 15, 2011

Columbus, OH


There are no such things as moral victories. Even tonight in Columbus when the presumed new #1 team in the nation was given a fight from the MSU Spartans. MSU could have won, but were undone by 19 turnovers.


A visibly angry Izzo said after the game, “We got beat by a good team. The only thing was the damn turnovers and NEVER getting to the free throw line.” MSU took six shots from the charity stripe and OSU had 29.


The story that stood out in this game was the emergence of the bigs. Adreian Payne, Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix, played like the Spartan Nation has been clamoring for. All three had big games that just can’t be judged in the statistics. Nix had seven points, Payne had ten points and Sherman had six. Again the stat line doesn’t say how critical they were. Izzo did. “I am most proud of our three bigs.” Draymond Green echoed his coach, “I am definitely proud of how they (the three bigs) stepped up.”


Praise for the Spartan bigs also came from presumed #1 NBA draft pick if he forgoes his sophomore year to be a one and done player Jared Sullinger. He said of the Spartan defense, “They played real physical down low. They played close to the basketball and made it tough down there. It was some great defense down there.”


Afterwards the big three took time to reflect on their play. Derrick Nix said, “I have to take advantage of every opportunity that I earn and Coach gives me.” A humble Sherman said, “The bigs did their role, but it is impossible to get excited when we didn’t win. We need to do that every game and have that same intensity.” 


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Payne for the first time since wearing the green and white finally looked like the high school player Izzo recruited. He agreed with my assessment and stated, “Yeah I am feeling more comfortable like high school. We (the three bigs) just came out and played hard.”


With the disappearance of Durrell Summers and the loss of Korie Lucious, the Spartans need more out of former walk on and senior guard Mike Kebler to. Kebler is known as a lock down defender, but he can score. He told me after the game, “I have to do it now (scoring). I have to take it,” referring to the shot. He had eight points tonight.


Delvon Roe shouldn’t have played tonight. Izzo perhaps saved his most emotion fighting back tears when talking about his star warrior from Ohio when he blurted out to the media, “You people from Ohio should be proud…(Izzo paused to gain his composure and added)…he is a unique kid.” Roe was not available to reporters after the game.


We all know and you can read what I already wrote that there are no moral victories. We also can take away from this game that beaten down, battered and left for dead team has found its fight. They lost it earlier in the season, but that is why we constantly say at Spartan Nation that we judge Izzo in March. As bad as certain stretches have been, this team has found their heart and fight. Not all of them, but enough of them and others may have played themselves out of key minutes.


Izzo hinted at his frustration with parts of his team when he said, “I feel good about a lot of our guys, just one or two I don’t.” If you are asking me to interpret that quote or if you were to ask the contingent of MSU media people sitting here in the media room with me what he meant I think we would agree. I think it is safe to assume that it really is one player and he was referring to senior guard Durrell Summers. He had zero points in sixteen minutes.


Izzo laid down the gauntlet. “We are definitely coming to play Illinois.” The Spartans play next in a nationally televised game day event on Saturday at 9 PM EST at the Breslin against the Illini.


With the loss the Spartans record for the season drops to 14-11 (6-7) but I still believe they will get to 18 wins in the regular season and make the NCAA tournament for the 14th consecutive year.


Izzo reminded the Spartan Nation, “We got to find a way to win some games.”