It was a nail-biter at the end of the game, and here’s what some of the players and Coach Tom Izzo had to say about what all went down at the Breslin Center on Tuesday night.
First up, Aaron Henry, who scored 20 points, stepped up to answer questions with a positive attitude and expressed what the win meant to him and the team.
“The basketball gods blessed us,” Henry said. “But we still have a lot of room to grow”.
He was smiling throughout the interview and it was easy to tell that this win was a confidence boost for the Spartans.
“I’m proud of the way our guys competed for 40 minutes,” Henry reflected. “It wasn’t 39 minutes competing, or 39 minutes and 30 seconds, it was 40 minutes of competing. Thats what got us the win.”
Based off Henry’s answers, the topic of finishing the game and not letting up until the last buzzer must have been a frequently discussed in practice.
Next, Tom Izzo’s opening statement discussed some disappointments, but touched on a few areas that he was proud of his team for, especially what all went into the decision to start Malik Hall over Joey Hauser.
“I’m a little disappointed, you know we had that 10-point lead and I thought we made some plays that weren’t very good,” Izzo said “I thought we executed some things when we were down four, and I thought Marcus Bingham did a better job. I started Malik Hall, and the reason for that was Joey (Hauser) came in two days ago and said ‘Coach, I’m not playing as good, Malik is playing good, I’m fouling and I’m in foul trouble every game. What do you think of bringing me off the bench?’ And you know what that takes a man to do that, and it really takes a man to go out and back it up by playing his butt off.”
Izzo knew it wasn’t his team’s best performance, but he was happy with how the team played defensively, and proud of his guys for not allowing this game to slip out of their grasp after Penn State’s comeback attempt.
“It wasn’t pretty, but another great defensive performance holding (Penn State) to 34 (percent shooting from the field) and 21 (percent shooting from the three-point line),” Izzo said. “Turnovers were a big thing I talked to you about, we had 11 and that’s not bad considering we had three in the first minute-and-a-half. Rebounding was pretty even (37 for Penn State and 36 for Michigan State). If we hit two or three of those threes that Josh (Langford) has that were wide open, I think we shoot 50 percent from the three. It doesn’t say much, we’re still a work in progress, but I was proud of this team.”
Other than that, Coach Izzo was optimistic, and mentioned that he was ready to look ahead at Michigan State’s steep schedule.
Lastly, Marcus Bingham fielded questions about his recent play and what all, physically and mentally, has gone into getting him to where he is currently at out on the court.
“I’m just trying to take my time and make the right play,” Bingham said. “You know, just trying to be patient and just let everything come to me and not force anything. Start of the second half I got my second foul, and as soon as I got out the big dude on their team scored and my mindset was just trying to attack him at every and any way I can as far as rebounding and being on the glass. I told my coaches that I got him and I feel like I did a good job.”
Bingham has been increasing his minutes out on the court over the past few games and Izzo had all good things to say about him after this matchup.
In other news, Joshua Langford scored his 1,000th-career-point, and his defense at the end of the game helped secure the win for the Spartans.
No one deserves it more than JL pic.twitter.com/RsGBpQWQL4— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 10, 2021
Although the Spartans let their lead slip at the end, they were able to hold it together on the defensive end and are finally looking a bit more like the team we know. With a few heavy hitters coming the team’s way next in the schedule, it should be exciting to see if Izzo and his team are really ready to rise up and make a case for a NCAA Tournament bid.
As always, Go Green!