Michigan State knocks off The Citadel 79-65 in a 66-possession game. Official box score.
In honor of Festivus, let’s start with the Airing of Grievances:
- It seems to me Travis Walton played more minutes (at least 10) at point guard than he has in any other game this season. He also had his worst offensive game of the season: zero points, 3 assists, and 5 turonvers in 29 minutes. I continue to believe that it’s best to keep Walton at the wing, where he can focus on (1) defense and (2) knocking down open shots. (He did shut down Cameron Wells, though. Wells shot 5 of 14 from the field and turned the ball over 5 times.) The question, I guess, is whether Tom Izzo trusts Korie Lucious enough to be the primary back-up at point guard in games against quality opponents. Tonight, Lucious only got 6 minutes. (Did the commentators say someone was under the weather tonight? Maybe it was Lucious?)
- I think MSU is hedging too much defensively on the perimeter. Over the last few games, I’ve noticed that a perimeter defender will hedge toward the player with the ball and then break toward that player if the player gets just a slight advantage on his defender, leading to open 3-point look when the ball gets passed back to the player the defender was originally assigned to.* I don’t pretend to know more about defensive technique than Tom Izzo, but I’d like to see our guys focus more on simply playing solid defense on their own assigned players.
- Too many points surrendered on in-bounds plays by the Bulldogs. Again, maybe we just need to man up more on defense.
- Is it just me, or is our converstion rate on alley-oop attempts about 30% this season? The feed from Allen to Summers in the last couple minutes was a sweet one, though.
*The construction of this sentence is extremely awkward. It’s too late at night for me to figure out how to fix it.
OK, now to the Feats of Strength:
- Raymar Morgan absolutely dominated a team that didn’t have the size to stop him down low. 26 points on 11-12 FG shooting, to go with 10 rebounds. More foul trouble, though.
- Overall, MSU dominated the game inside on the offensive end, converting 25 of 42 two-point attempts (59.5%). They pulled down 15 of 31 available offensive boards (48.4%). And they got to the free throw line 35 times.
- Another efficient game for Kalin Lucas: 7 points on 4 FG attempts, 8 assists, 1 turnover. He showed some flashes of the mid-range game and used his quickness to get to the line 8 times.
- Delvon Roe continues to display more and more of his athletic ability and basketball skills: 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals in 21 minutes. He’s got to get that free throw stroke worked out, though.
- Solid return for Goran Suton. He played 17 minutes, which is more than I thought he’d get. Fairly productive; 4 points and 5 rebounds, plus a block and a steal. He may be more of a factor in the Texas game that we had thought.
- Very efficient game for Durrell Summers: 12 points on just 4 FG attempts. Good to see him contribute in a game played more in the half court. Four steals to boot.
- I like that we’re getting back to playing Morgan at the 3, with two true big men in the game. By my calculation, a majority of the game (22 minutes) was played with two bigs on the floor. I assume that’s why Izzo has started Idong Ibok the last two games–to start the game off with what will likely be our normal configuration in conference play, assuming Roe’s and Suton’s knees continue to cooperate (knock on wood).
MSU certainly didn’t play this game at the level of efficiency they did against Alcorn State. Too many turnovers (14 for a TO% of 21.2%). Too many missed free throws (23-35 for a FT% of 65.7%). Too many offensive rebounds allowed (15 of 23 pulled down by the Bulldogs for an OffReb% of 39.5%). And too many three-pointers made by The Citadel (10-25 for a 3pt% of 40.0%). I will say that several of those were very long attempts by Austin Dahn, though, who made 5 of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc.
But The Citadel was clearly a more capable team than Alcorn State. And it’s hard to maintain intensity for 80 consecutive minutes against two teams you know you’re supposed to blow out. From the point MSU took a 37-19 lead with 3:23 remaining in the first half, they allowed the Bulldogs to outscore them 46-42 for the remainder of the game.
There’ll be no opportunity to take any minutes off against Texas on Saturday afternoon (2:00 on CBS). MSU will need 40 minutes of high-level intensity, particularly on defense, if they’re to get a quality win prior to conference play commencing.