Off and Running (and Then Running Some More): Michigan State 96, Eastern Michigan 66

That, my friends, was a 90-possession basketball game.  This was the most up-tempo Michigan State game of the KenPom era, beating the the previous leader in that category--the 83-possession blowout loss to North Carolina in 2008--by a full 7 possessions.  This team can run.

Of course, that also means the offense wasn't actually all that efficient, scoring a modest 1.07 points per possession.  The team shot the ball well from the field, making 54.3% of its 2-point attempts and 46.2% of its 3-point attempts.  But MSU only shot 66.7% from the line (albeit on a whopping 42 attempts from the line), pulled down only 25.0% of available offensive rebounds, and turned the ball over on 22.2% of its possessions.  All sorts of offensive ability was on display by the Spartans tonight, but 96 points in the context of that many possessions actually means you've still got plenty to work on.  [Note: StatSheet done gone broke after its recent site upgrades, so I'm calculating the numbers manually.  You'll have to wait a bit longer for the first four-factors graph of the season.]  [EDIT: Four factors graph after the jump!  --LVS.]

Defensively, it sure seemed like the MSU defenders allowed too many open shots for the Eagles.  But, you know, it's hard to complain about giving up 0.73 points per possession.  Brandon Bowdry was a man possessed, scoring 32 points on 5-8 three-point shooting and pulling down 15 rebounds.  He exposed Delvon Roe, Draymond Green, and the other bigs that tried to guard him on the outside.  This is where Raymar Morgan's departure shows up.  Still, I don't think we're going to see too many opposing forwards capable of repeating that kind of performance.  Setting aside Bowdry's numbers, the other Eagle players scored just 34 points on 48 field goal attempts.

Eastern's 13 offensive rebounds are disconcerting at first glance, but that number was a function of the number of missed shots by the Eagles: 52, just counting the ones from the field.  EMU's offensive rebounding percentage was just 23.6%.  So far, so good on MSU dominating the defensive glass.

Apparently, MSU played a few possessions of zone defense, but I have to confess I missed it.

Player bullets after the jump:

 

  • Can someone remind we what Kalin Lucas looked like at 100%?  Cuz that looked pretty darn good to me.  As agile as ever with the ball in the open court and fearless driving the lane.  18 points on 10 FGA, 6 assists, 2 turnovers.  Great start.
  • Durrell Summers was very efficient shooting the ball: 17 points on 13 FGA.  Not so much with the ball-handling: zero assists, 5 turnovers.  Still, he showed signs of the breakout senior season we're all hoping for tonight.
  • Draymond Green can do a lot with just 6 FGA: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 turnover, 3 blocks, 1 steal.  He can do it all, including running the fast break.  That's now new, but it's still stunning in its beauty.  Green played about half his minutes at the 3 spot tonight.  He looked more than comfortable on offense.  The adjustment on defense will take a little longer.  He got caught flat footed a few times against guys on the perimeter.
  • Keith Appling turned it over 5 times, but I thought that was more a function of jitters than anything.  He looked solid to me running the point with Lucious and Kebler out, considering he's spent almost no time there in the exhibition games.  Pulled it out and kept his dribble going on several occasions when things weren't opening up.  A very efficient 14 points on 4 FGA (7-7 from the line).  Plus: more jumping.  The 6'1" Appling blocked not 1 but 2 shots.
  • Austin Thornton posted the first double-digit scoring game of his career.  He also chipped in 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.  Only turned it over once in 22 minutes on the court.  Making the most of his opportunity.
  • Delvon Roe wasn't terribly impressive trying to score in the post; he converted just 1 of 4 FGA.  But he had 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.  He'll be fine.
  • Garrick Sherman was unusually assertive, scoring 8 points and pulling down 8 rebounds (led the team with 3 offensive boards).  He was the fifth guy in the starting lineup and has taken the (very) early lead on Derrick Nix in the derby to be the top traditional post guy in the rotation.
  • Nix didn't have a great game, missing both his shots from the field and making only 2 of 6 free throws.  Not the best kind of game for a 270-pound player to showcase his skills in either, though.
  • Adreian Payne got to double digits in garbage time.  He also picked up 4 fouls along the way.  He's got some adjusting to do to the college game on defense.  On offense, though, his ability to drive to the basket from the 3-point line as a 6'10" player reminded me of, well, no one in modern MSU basketball history.  He's simply a unique talent.  (Also: 0-for-3 from the line.  Note to basketball gods: Can we please not have to endure a third consecutive year of watching a talented freshman big man miss most of his free throw attempts?)
  • Hey, new walk-ons!  Matt Heneveld, Nick Giard, and Dan Chapman joined Anthony Ianni on the court in the last couple minutes of the game.  Let's get the roster updated, MSU SID!

Season openers generally aren't going to be works of tremendous beauty, so they might as well be entertaining.  And this one was (other than the constant stream of guys going to the free throw line, I guess).  This team promises to be as entertaining as any Tom Izzo has coached--and that's saying something.  Becoming a truly efficient operation will take a little longer.

Up Next: The South Carolina Gamecocks come to town to help MSU close out ESPN's 24-hour hoops marathon next Tuesday.  10:00 tip-off, so get some extra sleep this weekend.

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