This has to be Michigan State's most frustrating win ever. The Spartans and Silverswords were tied at halftime due to one part hot Chaminade shooting and one part bad help defense on MSU's part. Silversword guard Steven Bennett was playing as the second coming of Allen Iverson, center Mamadou Diarra was likewise impersonating Hakeem Olajuwon. This game had all the hallmarks of last year's game against The Citadel, except MSU's help defense seemed adequate a year ago and The Citadel was supernova hot instead of merely hot from behind the arc. MSU needed to dig deep (although it really, really shouldn't have had) to win this game, and they received a few sterling performances to do it. Here are the three Spartan stars for the game:
- Kalin Lucas: Morphed from distributor to scorer tonight, and boy did MSU need it. A career high 28 points on 11 of 20 shooting, and although his assist to turnover ratio (1 dime to 4 OOPS) left a bit to be desired, I'm not going to complain about it much when the Spartans needed every spark it could get today.
- Draymond Green: A textbook Draymond line: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, with one gripe being his 1-4 performance from the foul stripe. For a while it seemed like he was the only Spartan who wanted to rebound, and Jay Bilas noticed; did he notice. Don't be surprised if you see Mr. Green with Jay on his arm at the next formal event of the season.
- Korie Lucious: Coming off a South Carolina performance many would describe as WHATINTHE*$@#) he along with Lucas seemed to be the only players keeping MSU from falling into the abyss in the first half. 13 points (3-5 from three) and best of all - only one turnover. Michigan State's lucky they got the good version of Korie for this game.
Honorable mention goes to Mike Kebler, who helped locked down Bennett in the second half along with Lucious and Lucas. So what does this all mean for tomorrow's matchup against Connecticut (7 PM EST, ESPN)? Many will point to three-point defense, but Chaminade overall was merely good from behind the arc (10-27: 37%) contrary to what your eyes might have seen. The biggest three things MSU needs to do in this order: rebound, play better help defense, and get points inside. MSU was able to outscore Chaminade tonight, but they won't be able to do that against Connecticut. This looks like a terrible omen, but repeat after me -- "Michigan State always looks mediocre in a couple games in November".
Now let us never speak of this again.
[Update: Four factors graph is below. 69-possession game. Offense be good. Defense be not so good. -KJ]