MSU wins in Iowa City in a 63 possession game. After the UT-Arlington game a few weeks ago, KJ wrote:
As I indicated in the game preview, my enthusiasm for in-depth analysis of games against lower-tier nonconference opponents has waned. At this point, I don't think you want to read too much into the results of a game like this one.
While yesterday was a conference road game, and thus infinitely more important than a home game against a non-con tomato can, can we really read all that much more into this one? Iowa is pretty clearly the worst team in the conference, and probably worse than Indiana was last season. Furthermore, while MSU has had all kinds of difficulties at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in recent years, calling yesterday's crowd in Iowa City "lethargic" would probably be charitable.
With that in mind, a look at the four factors reveals the meh-ness of yesterday's performance:
The reasons why this game wasn't closer are clear: we shot the ball relatively well (eFG of 59.2%; season average is 54.9%), and rebounded very well on both the offensive and defensive ends. Unfortunately, yesterday's negative stat probably outweighs the positive ones: 18 turnovers, and a 28.6% turnover rate. (Iowa opponents average only a 18.2 TO%). This certainly had more to do with Izzo's sour post-game mood than anything else:
"The turnovers [are] something that's been haunting us the entire year, and as a coach I think I have to take responsibility for that," Izzo said. "It doesn't seem to be changing, which means I must not be doing my job. So that's gonna be a point of emphasis this week."
Needless to say, this team's turnover propensity certainly isn't as egregious as that of the '02-'04 post-Marcus Taylor malaise teams, and turnover-prone MSU teams from the past have still managed to be relatively successful. But . . . this certainly isn't what we expected from a a veteran-laden team.
Onto the positive: Draymond Green is grabbing most of the headlines, and rightly so. Green's fourth double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) of the season came in only 19 minutes of play, and included 6 points in his first 2 minutes of first-half action. All four of his offensive rebounds resulted in baskets, and he added four assists as well. Chris Allen hit two big 3-pointers, and Kalin Lucas bounced back from a tough game against Wisconsin: 14 points (including 6-6 from the line), 4 assists, and only 2 turnovers.
All difficulties aside, MSU has now won 10 of 11 conference road games, a figure we would have killed for only two seasons ago. The game was never in question after a 21-6 run to begin the second half, and while this could never be considered a sterling performance, the defense generally played well, we were able to spread minutes around, and . . . hey, the view from the top of the league looks nice, eh?
Next up: Minnesota (a team which looked very impressive at home against Ohio State yesterday) comes to the Breslin Center on Wednesday. The game marks the start of an important 3 game homestand (Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa); a 6-0 start to the conference season seems a realistic--if difficult--proposition.