East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans continue to spiral as they fell to Nebraska 72-71 for their fourth loss on the season (all in Big Ten play) and their third straight. It was an Izzo team that looked lost at times and frankly discombobulated. Tentative on defense they simply seemed lacking of confidence. Just typing that seems sacrilegious.
Denzel Valentine had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. Eron Harris added 14 points and freshman big man Deyonta Davis had 13 points and seven rebounds after getting his second straight start.
On the game the Huskers defense allowed the Spartans to shoot 42% while the Huskers shot 50% themselves. This time it wasnâ€™t fouls called against the Spartans. MSU shot 12 of 21 while the Huskers shot 10 of 14. The Spartans abysmal 51% from the charity stripe hurt. MSU led for rebounds 38-32 added 19 assists on 24 baskets.
Husker head coach Tim Miles who has a very young team said, â€œWe played three freshmen on the floor tonight and I was very proud of them. For those freshmen this is an invaluable experience for them and we are going to take this.â€
The Spartans havenâ€™t beaten the Huskers in nearly three years. So what is Coach Miles kryptonite to the Izzo machine? â€œLucky. Just lucky. I admire Coach Izzo. I learn so much when I scout his team. I love playing him. Iâ€™ve got the utmost respect for these guys, I canâ€™t explain the victories.â€
Of course Izzo was not as happy and said of the contest that, â€œStrange game. Worried when I changed the lineup. We didnâ€™t play smart enough. We just let them drive right to the basket. I swear to God we had some good shots, we just missed some good shots. Give them credit, they just drove and drove and drove and we couldnâ€™t hit a free throw. We are reeling. We are 16-4. We are not throwing in the towel. We just didnâ€™t play smart enough and we didnâ€™t play smart enough against Wisconsin. Hard to keep changing lineup, but donâ€™t ask me why I do it. Havenâ€™t lost the team, havenâ€™t lost the locker room and nobody is upset. We arenâ€™t going through a midlife crisis and weâ€™ll work our way out of it.â€
When asked what it is that the Huskers and Coach Miles do to have such sustained success against him? â€œBetter coach. His team drove to the basket and took advantage of the rules. He is a damn good coach.â€
Izzo was deflective of the blame on his players he implored the media to, â€œDonâ€™t blame my players, blame me.â€ Senior Bryn Forbes would have none of that.
When I told Forbes what his coach said he emphatically stated, â€œI donâ€™t agree with that. We made a lot of mistakes. We being players, a lot of mistakes on defense and on offense. Itâ€™s hard to win when itâ€™s mistake after mistake after mistake. This isnâ€™t on Coach, we as players didnâ€™t do our job.â€
Say what you want. Accuse me of being a homer, I know the truth and that ownership was big. If you are worried about your Spartans, Forbes leadership and ownership should calm your nerves. This is certainly a setback, but not a step back.
The Spartans need some ownership as Izzo said, â€œThere is blood in the water right now, the sharks are circling.â€
The Spartans will be right back here at the Breslin Center on Saturday for a 6:30 PM tip off against Maryland. That is also an ESPN Gameday show and the doors open or that at 9:30 AM.