The Michigan State Spartans took on the Toledo Rockets last night in the Breslin Center, and won by a final score of 81 to 68. The Spartans started off with a good first half performance, but fell flat a bit in the second half.
During the postgame press conference, freshman shooting guard Max Christie was out first to take some questions.
When asked about what went on in the second half against Toledo, Christie noted that the Spartans are seeing a trend from first half play to second half.
“I think a trend with our team right now, for some reason, is we come out really strong in the first half and then the second half comes and the first four minutes, the first four minutes til the media timeout, we want to win that,” Christie said,. “Recently we have not won any of it.”
Head coach Tom Izzo has paired Christie up with some really tough defensive matchups over these past few games. When asked to expand on this, Christie reflected on how things have been going for him in this role.
“I think it is a really big transition period for me,” Christie said. “Especially these last couple games. I think it is just an adjustment for me, getting that assignment on defense...They’re just making it difficult for me and I think it’s just a transition period. I’m gonna do my best to not get frustrated...It’s just something for me that I have to work through and not feel sorry for myself.”
Out next to share some postgame thoughts was Izzo.
“I thought that was as good a first half that we played all year, if you looked at offense and defense,” Izzo started. “I thought we took some selfish, poor shots...We missed a lot of tough twos...a leaner, off the run, off the dribble.”
Izzo gave a summary of the different aspects of the Spartans game and what areas he views as positives or negatives.
“Sitting here seven (wins) and two (losses), and I still think played one of the better schedules in the country,” Izzo said. “Our defense is way ahead of where I thought it was, our offense is below where I thought it would be, and the turnovers are way more than I thought they would be. So there’s some positives, there’s some negatives.”
As a final point, Izzo was asked about “one of his favorite guys,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Izzo mentioned that he hadn’t seen the score of the Georgia versus Alabama game.
When told the score and how much time was left, Izzo said with a smirk, “I don't bet against Nick (Saban). Never have, never will. Unbelievable though, cause I did think Georgia was really good. Not wasting my hard-earned money betting against Nick Saban. Happy for Nick.”
Lastly, Jaden Akins, Tyson Walker and Gabe Brown came out to answer a few questions each.
Akins was asked about his role going forward and how over the past few games his playing time has increased.
“Rebounding I feel like has earned me some more minutes, and on the offensive end just taking good shots,” Akins summarized.
When asked how he feels about the upcoming Big Ten schedule, Akins mentioned that he feels the whole team is ready for that next level and brought up the “hostile environment” that Butler brought to MSU’s road game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, and how he feels that has prepared them moving forward.
Next, Brown gave some statements. Since Brown has taken on a leadership role this year on the team, as a team captain, he has made some critical comments about the teams energy.
“We want to come out and bring energy,” Brown began. “Every second half that we have played this season, I felt like we have been sluggish. I felt like we have not have that type of kick that we have had in the first half...I felt like today we came out with no energy, it felt like we were just trying to get through the game and that’s just not Michigan State basketball.”
Overall, Brown talked a lot about being a leader and showing his younger teammates how important energy is and how capable they are to win games. He took responsibility for the low energy and mentioned that he is going to work to keep the energy up throughout the second half of these upcoming Big Ten matchups.
Lastly, Walker took a few questions. The point guard was also asked about Big Ten play and how he feels about those upcoming games.
“I think we are very prepared, especially since we played on the road...Just playing all these good teams definitely will help,” Walker said. “We’ll be ready.”
Walker mentioned that with Big Ten play, he is looking forward to the crowds the most. He noted that even inside the Breslin, he has felt the impact of the fans in the crowd.
With this win over Toledo, Izzo has now secured 650 total career wins.