MSU wins 68-61. The score turned out to be very close to that of the Bradley game (66-61). And the script was roughly the same, too: playing a quality team in a hostile environment; shots wouldn’t drop early in the game; offensive rebounding kept them in it; hit the big shots down the stretch to pull it out.
It was an ugly first half. At times, I was thinking that the “Culinary Connections with Mary Crafts” program the BYUTV video window showed as the regularly-scheduled program might have been more enjoyable. MSU couldn’t score at all through their regular offense. Of their 25 first-half points, 17 were off second chances. Offensive rebounding was all that kept them within striking distance. They shot 0-8 on three-point attempts. There were a few bad turnovers and some forced shots, but generally they just looked very tentative shooting the ball. The clearest evidence was the two free throws Raymar Morgan missed that barely hit the front of the rim.
Meanwhile, BYU shot 5-10 on three-point attempts and 9-14 on two-points attempts in the first half. MSU was fortunate to be within 10. And they took full advantage by going on a 14-3 run to start the second half, grabbing a one-point lead. It was back and forth down the stretch, with MSU again finding multiple ways to score baskets when they needed them. MSU hit 3 out of 6 three-point attempts in the second half, while BYU lost their touch, making only 4 of 14 (28.6%).
Box score is here. A few more statistical notes:
- At 59 possessions, this was the slowest game MSU has played this season. Seemed like the pace was pretty fast early, but slowed down considerably in the second half. MSU forced last-second shots from BYU a number of times.
- The Spartans’ amazing offensive rebounding continued. They snatched 18 of 35 opportunites (51.4%) against a team that had only allowed its previous opponents to rebound at a 26.4% rate on the offensive end.
- Turnovers were a problem early, but MSU took good care of the ball down the stretch. They finished with 12 turnovers for the game–equating to a turnover percentage we can live with: 20.3%. BYU actually finished with more turnovers (15) that MSU did. The one big turnover concern for MSU was Raymar Morgan, who gave it up six times today.
- Neitzel and Suton spurred the comeback, scoring 25 of their 27 combined points in the second half.
- Morgan co-led the team in scoring with 15 points, but almost all of them were off his six offensive rebounds. He looked out of synch on his other offensive attempts.
- A quiet 13 rebounds for Suton.
- A very nice game for Walton. 12 points. 3-4 FG shooting, including a key pull-up jumper with the shot clock running down in the second half. He looked much more assertive on offense. Hit all six of his FT attempts to keep the game out of reach in the last two minutes.
- For BYU, Sam Burgess hit a bunch of key shots. He scored 15 points on 4-7 three-point shooting. Lee Cummard was also very good, scoring 9 points on just three FG attempts. The fact that fouls limited his playing time in the second half hurt BYU considerably.
And now for the Spartans Weblog players of the game:
For BYU, Trent Plaisted was everything he was billed to be. He hit a McHale-esque series of twisting low-post baskets in the first half. He finished with 19 points on 14 FG attempts to go with 8 rebounds. The chink in his armor was free-throw shooting; he hit only 3 of 8 attempts from the line.
For MSU, I’m going to go with a guy whose stat line wasn’t that impressive: 30 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal. Drew Naymick’s efforts didn’t show up in the box score, but his contribution to MSU’s win was enormous: he played superb defense on Plaisted. Plaisted overcame that defense early to score some buckets. But you could tell he became frustrated down the stretch. Naymick played him physically and actively fronted him to deny the ball. BYU was forced to go to less efficient offensive options down the stretch, allowing MSU to pull away. Kudos to the Big Red Head. Absent his defensive efforts, Plaisted could have easily scored 30 points.
Another win the Spartan faithful can feel very good about. I worry that the players will get used to these second-half comebacks after mediocre starts–but it sure beats not coming back after a mediocre start.
No midweek game this week as the players hit the books for finals. The next game is next Saturday at home vs. Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). 5:30 start time.