hell heck was that?
MSU was in for a rough week: UMD at home, @ Iowa two days later, and then @ Purdue two days after that long road trip to Iowa city. Oh, and still missing one starter in Langford and Ahrens, our 7th or 8th man.
MSU couldn’t execute on offense in the first half, and didn’t deign to guard any of Purdue’s bench players letting Wheeler, Haarms, and Hunter jr go 9-10 from the field for 22 points. Goins and Tillman competed for least-good big man in the first half, and Henry stole first prize as worst back-court player in the first half in a runaway performance of head-shaking decisions and plays.
Down an eye-watering 18 points at the half, MSU needed someone to step up. It turns out that most of the team did step up, led by their fearless leader Cassius Winston, MSU cut it to a 5 point game. Henry, Goins, and Tillman all played better, while Ward, inconveniently played worse.
MSU falls to 9-1 in conference play, temporarily ahead of UM (8-1), and 18-3 overall. That this did not stay a complete disaster is a really good sign. Great teams don’t get destroyed in consecutive halves, and MSU’s ability and belief to grind their way back into the game speaks to the determination and quality of this team. A few missed fts by Winston, a comically good shooting performance from the ft line by Purdue’s worst ft shooter Eastern, and a few missed opportunities down the stretch spelled out the final 10-pt margin. Thankfully, MSU gets a well deserved 5 day rest now before taking on Indiana next Saturday (wait... why couldn’t MSU have had a more reasonable distribution of games and just had two this coming week? Because #B1Gschedulingidiocy)
It would have been interesting to see this game happen when MSU was better rested and had another day of prep, but that is now moot. MSU now has three highly winnable games coming up (vs IU, @ Ill., vs Minn - the trickiest of the bunch).
Looking ahead, MSU will need its bigs to find a level of consistency that they have not achieved in a few weeks, and will desperately hope that Ahrens and Langford can get back on the court and, then, not suffer any set-backs.
Time to step up to another level.