The team struggled to stay organized in the first half and went into the locker room trailing.
HALFTIME MSU 33 OSU 38— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) February 26, 2021
During the second half, when Aaron Henry and Joshua Langford were let back off the bench after dealing with foul trouble in the first half, something began to stir in the Spartans. Plays finally started to come together and the defense seemed to lock down more and more as the time ticked away.
In those final (and extremely stressful) minutes, the Spartans were able to seal the deal on their third straight much-needed win, defeating the Buckeyes by a final score of 71-67.
In the postgame press conference, Aaron Henry was up first and he had a lot to say about what went into this win.
“You gotta stay hungry, you gotta stay willing to get better,” Henry said. “It was team defense, it was team rebounding, everything was connected. We ran the plays Coach (Izzo) put before us and that was that.”
Henry was serious when discussing the momentum that this team has gained over the past three wins.
“We have to continue to be hungry, never satisfied,” Henry began. “We have all won in that locker room before. I like to say, ‘Don’t applaud a fish for swimming.’ Fish swim all day, and Spartans have won before, we have won before. We have to continue to do that and take it one day at a time.”
Next up was Coach Tom Izzo to give his opening remarks and take questions.
To start, Izzo began with a short comment on what occurred during Michigan State’s previous game, against Illinois, between Mady Sissoko and Ayo Dosunmu.
“I’ll start out with how sorry I felt for Ayo Dosunmu,” Izzo said. “I did talk to (Illinois head coach) Brad (Underwood) today when I found out, I actually talked to the kid and Mady texted him. Hopefully he’ll recover quickly because he’s one of the best players in this league, and one of the great kids in this league.”
He moved on to the game and broke down some critical areas in the first and second half that led to this win.
“I thought it was surviving the first half without my two superstars, Josh (Langford) and Aaron (Henry),” Izzo stated. “Twenty minutes between the two of them, and being down only five I thought we were lucky. I did not think we played great, and yet we found a way to win.
“There were some big plays, the play where we were down 41 to 42 when Josh sprinted back and blocked that shot was huge. The big three we got from Joey (Hauser) was huge. I thought we did some great defensive stands down the stretch.”
From a different angle, Izzo discussed Foster Loyer and how great he has been doing on the bench now that he is sitting out with a shoulder injury.
“Foster Loyer has been so good on that bench,” Izzo remarked. “He’s got play sheets, play cards, and...My captains have acted like captains. It is so good to see people grow, and not just as players. I’m proud.”
Finally, Izzo brought up a few of the team’s game plans and let everyone know how he was feeling after the win.
“I think this was Dane (Fife’s) scout, and we did a good job of knowing what plays they were going to run,” Izzo said. “Josh has watched so much film, he was just talking to everybody about that...So that was the game plan, put it in Aaron’s hands. We ran some things for him and Josh, we tried to look at our two best...I’m ecstatic, I am just going to enjoy it for 20 more minutes.”
Gabe Brown was up next to take questions, and it was easy to tell he enjoyed this win.
“I believe in this team, I believe in everybody,” Brown said as he cracked a smile. “Coach (izzo) and all the assistant coaches, they pushed us. Right now we are just taking it one game at a time, we are not trying to do things out of order.”
The Spartans head to Maryland on Sunday to face off against the Terrapins. With the momentum from the past three games, we will see if Coach Tom Izzo and his team will continue this trajectory into March.
As always, Go Green!