Here's to home wins in which the only real complaint is letting a 20-point halftime lead dwindle down to 10 with a few minutes to go.
MSU shot the ball well (58.6/38.5/74.3), limited turnovers for the most part (19.3 TO%), crashed the glass with abandon (45.8 OffReb%), and shot a ton of free throws (a whopping 83.3 FTR). Add all that up and you get 75 points in just 57 possessions--as complete an offensive performance as MSU has put together this season.
On the other end, Penn State got to a point per possession, but that was mostly a function of not turning the ball over. The only real complaint with the MSU defense was giving up too many good 3-point looks to non-Talor Battle Lions (4-7 among 4 players). (Minor gripe: Can we please just man up on out-of-bounds plays? The half-man-to-man/half-zone thing we have going provides no apparent benefit in terms of forcing tough in-bounds passes while quite often leaving players wide open--as it did for a PSU 3-pointer near the top of the key in the second half. It's a pleasure, though, to type up a minor gripe in a recap; lately, it's been all major gripes.)
MSU forced Battle into another relatively inefficient game: 19 points on 20 FGA. Jeff Brooks was the only Nittany Lion player to score with efficiency (15 points on 6-6 FG shooting), as MSU had a bit of a tough time matching up with him at the 3 spot.
Beyond winning a game in regulation for the first time in over five weeks, the other major storyline, of course, was Draymond Green's triple double: 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists (2 steals and 3 blocks, to boot). Outside of shooting the ball from the field (3-9), Green was at the height of his powers tonight. He joins Magic Johnson (8 of them) and Charlie Bell (1 of them) as the only Spartans to have accomplished the feat.
The assist that clinched the triple double was perhaps a bit too dramatic. Green was clearly gunning for the 10th assist in the last couple minutes, and it looked like Tom Izzo was drawing up a set play in the huddle to get him the assist against the Penn State press at one point. I don't have a problem with going for it when he did--Penn State was still extending the game by fouling--but the triple-double-clinching play may end up coming with a cost.
Delvon Roe seemed to aggravate his knee after converting the basket and getting fouled by a PSU defender. (It was called an intentional foul; I haven't seen the replay to comment on the nature of the foul.) There's no word on his status; the fact that he eventually bounced up and walked off under his own power is a very good sign. (Roe's determined-but-vague postgame statement: "Nobody is going to carry me off the court. I've been through too much... I can get up on my own." Also from the Twitter: When he was down, Roe kept asking whether the ball had gone in the basket.)
Bullets for the other guys:
- Kalin Lucas came out with purpose, scoring 15 points in the first half. He slowed down some in the second half--understandable given that he played the full 40 minutes--but still finished with 24 points. The PSU defenders continually struggled to keep up with his first step, fouling him as he turned the corner toward the lane.
- Durrell Summers was fairly quiet, but hit the three to give MSU a 20-point lead going into the half and threw down a very bouncy dunk in the halfcourt offense in the second half. Also: 4 defensive rebounds, zero turnovers.
- Delvon Roe put up 15 points on perfect shooting from the field (6-6). A couple of the baskets were a bit forced (he really needs a drop step move to the right when defenders are overplaying him to to left), but any option for initiating offense beyond Lucas and Green is a good one.
- Keith Appling made a couple moves to the basket early but finished with just 5 points. Took the lead in holding Battle in check.
- Collective numbers for the bench: 45 minutes, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist. Not a lot there; this team is going to have to rely heavily on the starters for whatever success it's going to achieve down the stretch. Garrick Sherman played as many minutes as he's played in any Big Ten game this season (14), scoring 5 points in the process.
Needless to say, it was great to see this team really click for 20 minutes. One game obviously doesn't constitute a trend, but this was absolutely the step in the right direction the team desperately needed. The next step up will be quite a bit bigger: at #1 Ohio State next Tuesday night (9:00, ESPN). Here's hoping Roe is somewhere near his baseline level of health (you can't ever really say he's ever at/near 100%); I'm not sure anyone else can guard Jared Sullinger effectively for any length of time. At least there's four full days between the games.