East Lansing, MI
Coming into the season I fully expected (and printed so) that the Michigan State Spartans would be two and two for a record coming into this game.Â I thought the other three â€œrealâ€ non conference games when the Spartans got past UNC and Duke were tonightâ€™s clash with UWM, Florida State (one week from tonight) and Gonzaga on December tenth.Â I still feel that way.
UWM gave MSU a test today.Â The Spartans responded and won.Â They (UWM) are not as good as Gonzaga or Florida State, but it was nice to see MSU beat a non-gimme team after the two gut wrenching losses to start the season.Â
Izzo said of the game, â€œThat was a good team we played.Â Better than I thought they would be.Â We did not seem to have the energy.Â We seemed a little tired.Â The foul trouble really killed usâ€¦Missing way to many free throws.â€Â
UWM head coach Rob Jeter said afterwards, â€œIt was a battle and we just couldnâ€™t get to the line.Â That is how we play and just couldnâ€™t get there. MSU really stuck their nose in there, their chest in there and you have to give them credit.â€
You can almost write this every game, but Draymond Green was again the star.Â He had 18 points and eight boards in a team leading 30 minutes and three steals.Â
The highlight of the game to me was with 2:57 left in the first half Izzo called over a big for some coaching.Â Draymond jumped in and really took over the coaching.Â Izzo loves a player-coached team and for years has craved it.Â Izzo commented on his starâ€™s performance saying, â€œI remember that. Â That was one of those moments.Â I donâ€™t think there is any doubt that Day Day has matured from being the frustrated player.â€
Travis Trice continues to inspire the team with his on court presence.Â He had seven points, four rebounds and two assists, one block and most importantly one turnover in 23 minutes.Â He still isnâ€™t happy with his performance (great players never are) but said in the locker room, â€œI feel more comfortable now, I feel like I am in a groove and playing better.â€
Perhaps the story of the game is the emergence of Derrick Nix.Â The Nixer had 11 points and three boards in 23 minutes, but what doesnâ€™t show up on the stat sheet was his energy.Â Passing, diving and hustling he was all over and looked fantastic.Â Izzo said, â€œI thought Derrick Nix was very very very goodâ€¦He played through being tired.â€
Afterwards Nix was overjoyed and said of his performance, â€œI have to bring more energy to be effective.Â I have to be active without the ball.Â I donâ€™t need to be a baby no more crying about wanting the ball.Â I need to do all of the things without the ball that make me a complete player.Â If I do the things without the ball, the ball will find me.â€Â Dare I say, AMEN!
Brandon Wood led MSU with four assists.Â He also added six points and six rebounds. Â It is becoming crystal clear he is NOT a starter yet on this team.Â His best role looking forward is off the bench.Â He is a solid player, but not a top minute player.
The Spartans take the court next on Sunday at EMU, and have their next big test one week from tonight (as mentioned above) here at the Breslin against Florida State.