Michigan State 77, Oakland 76 - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I knew that this was one of the best Oakland teams Greg Kampe has had, but I didn't expect the score to be this close. Every time MSU attempted to pull away the Golden Grizzlies would hit a few shots to get back within range.  Michigan State picked a good day to have its most cohesive game on the offensive end though and held on for the one-point victory.  Here's the four factors graph:

 

Shooting is what kept the game close; MSU's eFG% was below average, while Oakland overachieved with an eFG% of 55.1%.  The two difference-makers in the game's results were one team's missed free throws and turnovers.  In a stunning turn of events, this team was not Michigan State.  MSU had a season low eight turnovers and made 75% of their free throws.  While this can be attributed to Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious taking more than half of these shots, I'll take any sign of progress I can take right now, qualifiers be damned.  Individual player breakdowns and more after the jump.

 

  • Kalin Lucas said he was going to be more aggressive, and it showed.  While all of his drives didn't result in lay-ups they often resulted in free throws.  25 points on 6-12 shooting, with a cool 83.3% from the free-throw line (10 of 12) and five assists (five turnovers, however) is what I'd call a nice comeback performance.
  • Durrell Summers played well. 12 points on 5-12 shooting and five rebounds obviously isn't one of his best games, but if it's one of his lesser efforts MSU is in good shape.
  • Delvon Roe looked much more aggressive on his drives,  even though he only scored seven points.  He also had two blocks.
  • Keith Appling had a couple of rookie mistakes, but is quickly integrating himself in the offense.  He had 12 points, 3 assists and 1 turnover in 21 minutes.
  • We probably witnessed the worst shooting night of Korie Lucious's career as he went 0-8 from the field.  I simply think this was an off night -- he was making good decisions with his shot selction, but his aim was just a bit off.  He made up for this deficit in other ways with five rebounds, four steals, and two assists.
  • Garrick Sherman didn't get many touches inside the paint in this game, but he looked much improved in his rebounding.  He had seven rebounds to go with his four points.
  • Draymond Green had yet another Draymond line: 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal.
  • Austin Thornton was mostly invisible except in the last minute where he had a critical turnover.  Derrick Nix only played nine minutes but made them count with five rebounds and one point.  Adreian Payne played four minutes and Mike Kebler one.  That's all folks.

As for Oakland, Keith Benson was as good as expected.  One can see why he's projected as an NBA pick -- he has a wide array of post moves to go with good athleticism.   I  don't think anyone expected someone who's been 3 of 21 from three so far this season to go four of five, but that's exactly what Larry Wright did.  Although Oakland shot 47.4% from three, I wasn't concerned with MSU's perimeter defense as much as their interior defense.  For the second straight game  guards were able to penetrate with ease, and a few too many times players were wide open underneath the basket.  While the defense did looked improved, there's still much to be concerned about.

Up next, the team faces its most difficult opponent yet: final exams HA HA HA AMIRITE?  In all seriousness, finals week will give the players a badly needed opportunity to rest up before Saturday's game against Prairie View A&M.  Here's to hoping the team can finish the nonconference season on a hot streak.

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