Michigan State returned home from the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland early on Monday morning. The Spartans finished with a 2-1 record with wins against Oregon and Portland, and a loss against No. 11 Alabama.
“I was pleased with a lot of things,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “When you lose a 10-point lead in a minute, it’s hard to feel good about that.”
The Spartans had a 12-point lead on Sunday against Portland with just under four minutes to play. The Pilots ended the game on a 13-2 run. However, Michigan State ended up winning the game by one point.
“We didn’t finish games,” Izzo said. “That’s twice now that it’s happened, and that’s really bothersome for me.”
The other game that Michigan State didn’t finish was against Gonzaga back on Nov. 11. The Spartans had a 45-33 lead in the second half and ended up losing 64-63.
The Spartans did have two key injuries as senior forward Malik Hall and sophomore guard Jaden Akins missed the PKI.
“I do think we were fatigued,” Izzo said.
Izzo noted that Michigan State has played six games in the past 16 days, along with two separate trips to the West Coast. Izzo thinks that the fatigue was both physical and mental.
Michigan State’s next game will be at Notre Dame on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The health of Akins is a question heading into the game.
“It’s doubtful right now because I want to see three to four days of actual practice, at least two to three days, before I’m going to feel comfortable (with Akins playing),” Izzo said.
Izzo was asked about his thoughts on the Big Ten’s official statement regarding the tunnel incident that took place following the Michigan State versus Michigan football game on Oct. 29.
“I’m completely upset about it,” Izzo said. “I think to get a $100,000 fine, a suspension of a player is fine, but to get a fine like that and the other school gets reprimanded. What the hell does reprimanded mean?
“So, if they were reprimanded enough, they must have found something wrong,” Izzo said.
Izzo said that he was “completely upset” with what the MSU players did in the tunnel, and he doesn’t “validate anything that happened.” However, he thinks more needs to be done to prevent these kinds of incidents for happening.
“It really disgusts me, too, that it wasn’t handled better on the front end since they had a problem with Ohio State a year ago, Penn State this year and then we get a $100,000 fine and there’s a reprimand,” Izzo said.
“Maybe my own administration will be mad at me for saying this, but I’m not happy with it,” Izzo continued.
“When adults have a chance to handle a problem that’s been a problem before and it doesn’t get handled, what starts bad, ends bad.”