. . . when your team goes on a 17-0 run and the needle on the odds-of-winning-the-game meter barely budges from zero.
The stats for the full game don’t have a lot of meaning in a game like this one, so I’m not going to a do a full breakdown. It’s how the game started that put this one out of reach almost from the start. Nearly everything that could have gone wrong for MSU did go wrong in the first half:
- Memphis hit 4 of their first 6 three-pointers to pull MSU out of their attempts to play a combination of zone defense and sagging man-to-man. Memphis didn’t hit another 3-pointer the entire game, but it didn’t matter at that point.
- Memphis pulled down 8 of their first 10 offensive rebounding opportunities. They made MSU look completely overmatched physically, which is a tall task.
- Lucas made several bad decisions in pushing the ball in transition that led to easy baskets going the other way for Memphis.
- Even when MSU forced difficult shots, Memphis hit them. Rose and Douglas-Roberts both made a series of spectacular mid-range shots in the first half and combined to shoot 16-23 on 2-point attempts for the game. The dribble-drive offense is fairly unstoppable when players are hitting shots consistently even when they’re not getting all the way to the basket.
It’s disappointing how easily MSU seem to fold in the first half, but the way Memphis came out scoring the basketball, I really think there was no way the Spartans were going to keep up. Give the MSU players credit for fighting back to within shouting distance in the second half, but a lot of that, quite frankly, was Memphis easing off the gas pedal.
- Joey Dorsey sure is a class act, huh? His taunts of Neitzel ensure the Tigers are now the villain I will be rooting against through the remainder of the tournament.
- Is Goran Suton invisible? Packer offered up kudos to Allen for his 20-point performance throughout the second half–and deservedly so–but made almost no mention of Suton (23 points, 9 rebounds). Oh well, the refusal of the media to acknowledge the quality of his play at least provides a continuing rationale for the existence of this blog.
- 26-35 (74.3%) from the free throw line for the Tigers. None of them were pressure shots, but their strokes looked fine to me.
- If Morgan was still thinking at all about leaving for the NBA, this game should confirm he’s got some work to do on his game to compete with players of similar size and athletic ability.
- Walton: zero points, 4 fouls. He has a lot of work to this offseason to regain at least a basic level of offensive confidence.
- 69-possession game. I think that number’s inflated by the fouls at the end. And an up-tempo game doesn’t help too much when you’re taking the ball out from under your basket, rather than making outlet passes off defensive rebounds.
It hurt to watch Neitzel’s career end on a game in which he struggled so badly against the stellar defense of Antonio Anderson. Give him credit, though, for staying within the offense right up until the end tonight; he finished with 7 assists.
Hopefully, the memory of this game fades and he’s remembered as he should be–as the player who put a team on his back for a season and kept MSU’s NCAA Tournament appearance streak alive. We Spartan faithful owe you an undying debt of gratitude, #11.
I’ll wait a few days to make any judgments about this season as a whole, but tonight’s loss was certainly a disappointing punctuation mark to it.