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The Final Tune-Up: Michigan State 87, UT-Arlington 68

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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.

But if you're going to read something into it, I suppose it'd be that MSU's defense is far from dominant--which is something we already knew.  In a 73-possession game, MSU allowed a subpar team to score 68 points.  In the first half of the game, it was 44 points in 37 possessions.  Some of that can be chalked up to the Mavericks making some tough shots; the very impressive Marquez Haynes had 13 points on 5-7 FG shooting and UT-Arlington shot 6-12 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes.  But some of it was poor defensive rotation by MSU defenders leading to open looks at the basket.

The defense was better in the second half.  Haynes was limited to 7 points on 1-4 FG shooting, and the Mavericks turned the ball over 13 times.  Once the UT-Arlington shooters cooled off, MSU was able to impose its will and pull away for the comfortable win.  (Four factors graph at bottom.)

Offensively, MSU was pretty efficient tonight, outside of a few moments of sloppy passing against the zone defense.  Four players scored 14 or more points (official box score is here):

  • Durrell Summers scored 20 points in just 18 minutes.  Other than a brick that came off the backboard to Green in the second half, his jumpshot looked much better than it has through most of the nonconference season.
  • Draymond Green scored 19 points on 11 FG attempts. 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals to boot.
  • Kalin Lucas played into the "Will he respond to being called out by his coach?" story line by scoring 16 points on 9 FG attempts.  Nice defensive sequence to force Haynes into a travel in the second half.
  • Chris Allen looked very good shooting the ball, scoring 14 points on 4-7 three-point shooting. 

The only real disappointment offensively was the inability of Raymar Morgan to get things going.  He scored just 5 points on 2-7 FG shooting--the third game in last four outings he's failed to reach double digits scoring.  It's really hard to say what we can expect from Morgan in conference play.  (He did have 3 assists tonight; nice inside/outside exchange with Summers in the second half.)

Up Next: The newly-ranked and almost-conference-road-opener-winning Northwestern Wildcats.  At their place.  Saturday at 6:30.  Big Ten Network.  Block off a full 6 hours of Spartans sports viewing time Saturday night.