Recap: Getting in the Zone

USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State beats Indiana (not that Indiana) 83-48 in the second of two preseason exhibitions

The scoreline wasn't quite as impressive for MSU as it was in the first exhibition, but that's not all bad.  You'd hate to see Tom Izzo without anything to beat his team up over this early in the season.

Gary Harris led the scoring attack with 21 points on 5-7 three-point shooting.  Keith Appling tried out the more distribution-prone role at the point with a large amount of success: 11 assists, zero turnovers.

This was just a 61-possession game, as Indiana PA threw a zone defense at MSU for much of the game, slowing down the pace.  The Spartan shooters took full advantage, knocking down 13 of 31 attempts (41.9%) from beyond the arc and recording assists on 24 of 30 made field goals.  MSU also crashed the glass hard on offense, grabbing 18 of 39 missed shots.  Eleven Spartans grabbed at least one offensive rebound.  No one played more than 23 minutes.

On the downside, MSU hit only 10 of 21 free throws.  If you're going to have a statistical issue, free throw shooting is the one to have.  Free throw shooting is random.  Free throw shooting is not an effort stat.  Free throw shooting reverts to the mean.  (But Tom Izzo isn't telling his team that.  He said they're staying late tonight to shoot more free throws.)

Eventually, this team will need some kind of low post scoring threat, but I think they can ease into it given the wide range of perimeter options.  Matt Costello was pretty active in the lane on offense.  I am contractually obligated to tell you that the defense was a little sloppy at times tonight.

My take on the guys trying to crack the rotation:

--Alex Gauna continues to impress with his improved assertiveness and confidence.  4 points and 4 rebounds in14 minutes.  He passed the ball nicely in the middle of the zone, too.  He's looking like he can be quite useful as the first true big off the bench.

--Gavin Schilling is an athlete.  He got up very quickly for a put back dunk off a missed 3-pointer.  5 rebounds in 13 minutes, too.  He was the main culprit at the line, though, missing 5 of 6 attempts, and he turned the ball over twice.

--Russell Byrd is off to a blazing hot start: 3-4 from deep in this one, 5-6 in the two exhibition games combined.  That's 83%.  We'll take half of that in the regular season.

--Alvin Ellis III is also an athlete.  He's very effective around the basket, but his decision making is questionable.  I'd say 60/40 he redshirts, given the depth MSU has on the perimeter this year, but we'll see.

Kenny Kaminski will sit out the first regular season game, which really means he'll sit out the first two regular season games.  He'll have a bit of catching up to do to get in position to play meaningful minutes this year.

One more tune-up to go, with the stats counting this time, before the big match-up in Chicago next week.  Friday night at 7:00 vs. McNeese State.  I think it will be streaming at BTN.com, but I'm not sure on the details.

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