East Lansing, MI
The #1 Michigan State Spartans came in to this Black Friday tilt with unknown Mount Saint Maryâ€™s (MSM).Â When it was over, the Spartans remained undefeated (7-0) and the MSM Mountaineers wallet is considerably fatter.Â The Spartans won today 98 to 65.
The Spartans had one starter out for this game.Â That was Gary Harris who was resting his ankle.Â Had the Spartans been playing North Carolina today and NOT next Wednesday, he would have been on the court.Â Tom Izzo said, â€œHeâ€™s good.â€
Three other starters played, but DID NOT start.Â Keith Appling, Branden Dawson & Adreian Payne skipped at least one class this week so Izzo didnâ€™t start them.Â Missing a class is a minor and inconsequential event.
Tom Izzo said of the three players being left of the starterâ€™s docket, â€œI got a lot of jobs in this job.Â One of them is to graduate guys and to keep them accountable.Â Minor little thing, a class they needed to be at, were told it and decided to try their way and it didnâ€™t work.Â Kind of screws you up.â€
MSM head coach Jamion Christian said of the game, â€œWatching them from afar for all of these years you can really see why they are at the top every year, one of the best leaders (Izzo) in the nation.Â No better opportunity than to play against the #1 team in the country.Â If we do the best in our league we will play a team like Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA.â€
Denzel Valentine had the best game for the Spartans.Â He had 15 points, seven assists and five boards.Â Trice had 15 points and six assist.Â Keith Appling led the Spartans in scoring pouring in 17 points and adding 5 assists and 2 boards.Â Branden Dawson was impressive with 10 boards, six points and two assists.Â
Izzo described the game as, â€œSo we were a little sloppy in the first half, but we made some great halftime adjustments.Â Got a great game out of Trice.Â Valentine did a pretty good job to and Keith is Keith.Â He is just very, very very good.Â All in all in the second half we played better.â€
The Spartans posted 40 rebounds, but only five on offense.Â In defense of the low offensive rebounding total the Spartans shot a lights out 63%.Â I asked Izzo if that was a reason for only five offensive boards.Â He agreed and said, â€œYeah that is a good excuse we shot a high percentage.â€
Izzo has exclaimed the chemistry on this team all season.Â He is right, but I think he is missing a major angle to that chemistry.Â In the past Izzo has had his share of teams that tune him out.Â This group does not.Â They hunger for what he has to offer and I asked him about it.Â He agreed saying, â€œ"In general I can't ask more of a group of guys."
The Spartans next game is at 9 PM here at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night against #16 ranked North Carolina in the B1G vs. ACC challenge.Â Izzo bragged on the job his buddy Roy Williams is doing for the Tar Heels this year.Â â€œI think this week we have to play better and I think we will. No question with Carolina, this guy has done a great job with this team.Â You lose to Belmont and then beat Louisville pretty handily.â€