East Lansing, Mi
The Spartans started listless, got behind, but they were able to turn it on late to beat Northwestern in overtime 71-67.
With a house full of former Spartans, the game started like many have this year. This yearâ€™s team thought they would win because of the legacy of the past. They responded at the very end like the Wisconsin game and won. If the Spartans play like they have the last two games on the road next week at Illinois and Purdue they will lose.
A victory in the Big Ten is a good thing, but this team failed to answer any of the nagging questions that are plaguing them. Izzo said of his team’s win, â€œOur energy level on defense was the best it has been. Other than shooting I donâ€™t have any complaints. We turned them over and no one does that. It really came down to missing so many shots. Canâ€™t keep living like this.â€
Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody was obviously down after the loss, â€œThey made the plays and we didnâ€™t make the plays. They stopped us. They (MSU) were not playing great, but they found a way to win. Tough one to take especially on the road.â€
Down the wire the Spartans finally made free throws (24 for 28 86% for the game) and Delvon Roeâ€™s defense was amazing throughout the contest. Freshman Keith Appling got the start and had 19 points in the contest to lead the Spartans. He played like a freshman at times on defense and with turnovers (5), but shot like a seasoned veteran.
The youngster said of his performance, â€œI am just playing a lot more focused now.â€ I asked him if today was the most comfortable he felt since high school and he responded, â€œFor sure, without a doubt.â€
Delvon Roe may not have the stats that leap of the paper, but his defense was the key. He had told me on Thursday, â€œI donâ€™t care if you open the paper after the game and donâ€™t see many stats from me if you know I dominated on defense.â€ He looked like a prophet today.
I asked Roe after the game about his performance and he said, â€œI am a man of my word. This is the only way I can make a living in this game is by playing defense that shuts down their best player.â€
The Spartans now turn their attention to the road. At 12-5 (4-1) they have play at Illinois on Tuesday at 7 PM and at Purdue one week from today at 9 PM.