There was no other way for that game to end.
It had to be MSU running the clock too far down, getting the ball to Ward too late only to have him fumble it and then have Melo Trimble nail a cold-blooded triple. It was the only way.
Now, instead of having their ticket punched, MSU still sits on the bubble and no longer has the benefit of a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
1. Same Old Story
This game was like so many others on the road this season. Hang tough early, go with the undermanned bench unit, spark an opponent’s run that you don’t have the talent or senior leadership to fight your way back from and ultimately come up short.
It happened early in the season against Penn State, Ohio State and Indiana, more recently against Illinois and, finally, today in College Park.
This was MSU’s 30th game of the season and they’re still making the same mistakes. It is fair to say the ship has sailed on them turning any type of corner in 2017. Until you can get a rotation that doesn’t include multiple players with glaring weaknesses and no height, nothing is going to change.
2. Phenomenal Freshman Frontcourt
I tweeted this during the game...
It is legitimately scary to think where this team would be if Bridges wasn't superhuman and Ward didn't surprise— Austin C. Smith (@ACSmith06) March 4, 2017
Today was a perfect example of just how reliant MSU is on their incredible freshman frontcourt. Nick Ward has put in a season’s worth of great performances, but his 22-point, 16-rebound line was one of his statistical best. The other half of the equation, Miles Bridges, didn’t have his finest outing but still went for 18 and 8. Cassius Winston was the only other player to score more than four points, which is a frustrating indictment of the lack of development and consistency from the rest of the roster.
Josh Langford, probably the only other natural offensive threat, plays SUCH terrible defense that Izzo has to turn to Matt McQuaid — who appears to have lost all the confidence he gained from his one good outing — to be his “stopper” in crunch time. Alvin Ellis is as streaky as it gets and Tum Tum still can’t shoot after three full years. After those three you’re looking at Kenny Goins, who looks like he’s being held together with gum and shoestring, and Kyle Ahrens to round out the playing group.
Combined, Bridges and Ward accounted for 66% of the team’s scoring and almost 58% of the rebounds. You’re not going to win many games, especially late season road games, when that’s the case.
3. What’s Next?
Instead of locking up the #3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, MSU faces an uncertain future. They’ll definitely be playing this Thursday, but against whom, we don’t know. If you feel like trying to figure it out while simultaneously giving yourself a migraine, check out this chart from our own SpartanDan