Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Spartans came into the game tonight wounded from a loss to the Wildcats at Northwestern.Â They also carried with them a two game losing streak to their archrival Michigan dating back to last season.
After forty minutes of basketball here at the newly renovated and renamed Crisler Center, the Spartans now have a two game losing streak for the season (their second, they started the year 0-2) and a three game losing streak to the Wolverines.
Michigan freshman point guard sensation Trey Burke was the difference in the game for the Wolverines.Â He had 20 points for Coach Beilein and played some great spurts of defense.Â MSU head coach Tom Izzo confessed, â€œHe played well.â€Â Â
I said before the game that the key for an MSU win was playing an inside out game.Â UM had spent a lot of preparation time concerned about the Spartans using their bigger size advantage down low.Â MSU came out and didnâ€™t go that way.Â They struggled and didnâ€™t look good.Â After the game they were thankful MSU didnâ€™t use that method of attack and the Spartans lamented that they didnâ€™t.
Izzo said, â€œWe did enough things to win this game and enough things to lose this game.â€Â He went on to address the struggles and said, â€œI didnâ€™t think we went inside enoughâ€¦I have a pretty good basketball team that I think for the first time didnâ€™t play tough enough.â€
Wolverines head coach John Beilein was obviously a little more upbeat, â€œI donâ€™t think anyone in the house didnâ€™t think that was a great game.â€Â When asked about the impact on recruiting and for the fan base that three wins represents he said, â€œItâ€™s always been a great rivalryâ€¦if you look at the last ten or twelve years it hasnâ€™t been much of a rivalry,â€ a sign of respect for the MSU dominance prior to his arrival.Â He even added about Izzo, â€œThey (MSU) have one of the greatest coaches of all time.â€
Beileinâ€™s praise for the Spartans continued, â€œYou got to go through Michigan State to win a Big Ten titleâ€¦It (win) means a lot to us.â€Â So what does this win mean to the program?Â â€œIt is good for perception.Â You can have all of these pretty things (millions of dollars in renovations at Crisler) but if you donâ€™t win these games it doesnâ€™t matter.Â This team is tough.â€
The Wolverines were crushed on the boards with the Spartans holding a rebounding advantage of 31-18, but Beilein took exception with people thinking MSU owned the glass because of a lack of effort on the part of the Wolverines.Â â€œWe were sending three people back at all times on offense (creating a lack of offensive rebounders) trying to stop their transition gameâ€¦that (rebounding advantage) was not indicative of who won the game.â€
Nix was the bright spot for the Spartans.Â He had thirteen points in 24 minutes and was a big influence in the paint.Â Beilein said of the play of Nix, â€œNix did a good job of jamming inside.â€
For the second straight game Izzo was not pleased with his young players.Â â€œIt was a strange game the whole way.Â I thought Michigan did some good things.Â The only freshman I had that played pretty good was (Brandan) Kearney.â€
Kearney had six family members in Crisler tonight and said that even though he played well, â€œIt wasnâ€™t enough and all of us could have brought more.â€
With Izzo shockingly not choosing to go small, some of my colleagues in the media and I were surprised that when Payne struggled Izzo didnâ€™t use Alex Gauna.Â He certainly couldnâ€™t have struggled more than Payne and with Izzo not wanting to go small some minutes for him would have made sense.Â Since he couldnâ€™t have played worse then Payne Izzo had nothing to lose giving a look to his redshirt freshman.Â He didnâ€™t agree.Â â€œI already had four freshman in theirâ€¦Payne just didnâ€™t play with any toughnessâ€¦I had enough rookies in.â€
Izzo informed us that Nix, â€œâ€¦asked to come out,â€ when he was questioned about his substitution patterns with Payne.Â When asked by another reporter in the locker room after the game about wanting to come out Nix responded, â€œI didnâ€™t ask to come out.â€Â
Izzo also spoke about Keith Appling be exhausted for having played like a warrior for 31 minutes.Â Appling told the media assembled around him, â€œI wasnâ€™t tired at all.â€Â Bravado?Â Perhaps, but I donâ€™t know how he couldnâ€™t have been.
Can Appling take the fact that at least he had given every bit of effort he had, as any consolation? Â â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter.Â We lost the game so we go back to the drawing board.â€
The Spartans donâ€™t have any time to pout after dropping two straight in Big Ten play.Â They host Purdue on Saturday at high noon in the Breslin Center.
The one point margin of victory doesnâ€™t matter.Â Not in a rivalry game.Â The only thing that matters is that UM won.Â By one point or a hundred, it is about Wâ€™s in this game.Â Michigan got it and the Spartans had a long bus ride with no moral victories.
A frustrated Izzo ended his press conference by saying, â€œI am disappointed in me.Â I think I had a worse night then the team.â€Â The future hall of famer has done a lot of great things as the head coach of Michigan State and he deserves all the praise he gets for the many wins and actions he has done on and off the court.Â But on this night in Ann Arbor, he is 100% accurate.