Michigan State Prepares for Gauntlet, Attempts to make NCAA Tournament

If Michigan State basketball can take advantage of some late-season opportunities, their NCAA Tournament streak doesn't have to be over. But MSU must find success against the Big Ten's best teams.
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EAST LANSING – Michigan State basketball has vowed to take the rest of the season one game at a time.

It's the right approach for a team sitting at 5-9 in the conference with multiple ranked opponents left, including Michigan (twice), Ohio State, and Illinois, all listed inside the top-5.

An eight-point victory over Indiana was enough to breathe life into the fan base, but will it spark a historic run?

"It wasn't just winning a game; I thought we played like we hoped to play," MSU coach Tom Izzo told reporters Monday afternoon. "Two of the best players played really well – Aaron (Henry) was I thought unbelievable, and I thought Josh (Langford) was really every bit as good just in different ways."

The Spartans aren't out of it yet; there are some great opportunities left, but they need to take advantage, and their best players must step up.  

Against the Hoosiers, MSU found success and, Izzo found a lineup that worked.

Langford ran the offense, navigating his teammates and taking over a position the Spartans desperately need leadership out of. 

It was a necessary adjustment after Michigan State turned the ball over nine times in less than ten minutes.

Henry slid into the post, playing power forward, while occasionally bringing the ball up himself. The Indiana native was on a mission, slicing through the defense, creating and scoring at will.

Gabe Brown moved over to Henry's spot and found his stroke, hitting 4-of-8 three-pointers (14 points total).

Plus, MSU's revolving door of big men helped slow down Trayce Jackson-Davis long enough to recover from a 13-point deficit.

More importantly, the Spartans responded, and the trio of Henry, Langford, and Brown not only pulled Michigan State back in it; they helped lead them on a 24-9 comeback to beat IU at Assembly Hall.

MSU won't win six in a row, but a 4-2 finish featuring some impressive wins may put them in a position to make the big dance.

And winning a game or two in the Big Ten Tournament wouldn't hurt either.

It's a long shot, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Izzo's Spartans. 

"We're excited; you got an opportunity; it's strange because we (only) play so many teams that are ranked," he said. "I've gone a whole season playing two ranked teams in the Big Ten. Now we are going to play four in a week and a half."

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