MSU got its first B1G win of the season and just its second true road win of the year (the first was against Northeastern) by beating Minnesota at Williams Arena.
The Four Factors
There 60-61 possessions, so MSU's offense was just fine (1.14 points per possession). Defense wasn't quite as good, but not terrible (1.00 PPP).
Right to the bullets:
- Total rebounds are absolutely horrid. Throughout the game, ESPN harped on MSU losing on the offensive boards, but MSU shot the ball so much better that total offensive rebounds became misleading. MSU outrebounded Minnesota for the game. You wouldn't know that from the telecast.
- Matt Costello had one of his best games ever with 17 points and 15 rebounds. It was clear that much of the offense was going to be centered around play in the post; Costello was the main recipient of those opportunities. And they were well deserved, even though Matt went just 5-for-11, because he got to the line 9 times as well. It's encouraging to know that post offense is something that can be exploited given the right matchup.
- Deyonta Davis had one tough moment at the end of the first half, but in general I thought he was terrific. He put up 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting (plus free throws) and not only posted 3 blocks but consistently altered Minnesota's shots around the rim. DD's presence and impact are huge, and he's got a basically unlimited ceiling. I'm really excited about him.
- Gavin Schilling had a strong showing, I thought. He did a nice job moving his feet while defending and was also efficient on the offensive end with 8 points on 3-for-4 shooting. Speaking of which...
- Having two bigs in the game was great. I think all three of Schilling, Davis, and Costello have the ability to hang with many B1G power forwards, and if other teams go small then Marvin Clark (who we didn't see at all, evidently injured) and Javon Bess are great counters. Kenny Goins is still a walk-on who is sort of marginally playable; he just can't be the ultimate answer for the 4. Going with two bigs is a great way to exploit MSU's depth, provided that foul trouble doesn't become a major issue.
- Bryn Forbes continues to grow before our eyes. He took on a much larger role in this game, with 20 points on 17 shots (and 2-for-2 from the line). He reminds me a lot of Rip Hamilton from the Pistons; he is at his best coming off of screens but that's not all he has to offer. Bryn is definitely more effective when he's not the focal point of the offense, but he's not a bad first option, either.
- Eron Harris didn't have a great shooting night at just 3-for-7 but still chipped in 10 points and 5 rebounds. Foul trouble limited his time on the floor.
- Alvin Ellis turned the ball over and committed a bad foul, then didn't see the floor again. Kyle Ahrens and Matt McQuaid were both pretty invisible. Javon Bess barely played and was apparently injured.
KenPom projected an 11-point victory (in a 71-possession game) but had no idea that Valentine wouldn't be playing; the Vegas line was MSU by 9. To me, that means MSU performed more or less than expected, but that's not a fun headline. So ESPN suggested MSU "survived a scare." That's bullshit.
Never take a road B1G win for granted. Or really, any B1G win. MSU lost to Minnesota at home last year despite being totally healthy (before going to the Final Four). A win against the Gophers, on the road, without Denzel Valentine, is encouraging.