Just over 48 hours after their emphatic thrashing of Baylor, MSU was back on their own court to play the first of their final 3 tune-ups before the schedule goes to Big Ten play full time. Unlike the Baylor game, it took the Spartans a little bit to exert their dominance in this one, but there were no points that the result ever felt in question. MSU took the lead early and they never relinquished it, but they were not able to stretch the game to double-digits until the final minute of the first half. And in the second half, they did go on a run that eventually saw them up by 27, only to see the Golden Grizzlies chip away at that for the final 17-point margin, 79-62. Let’s take a look at some of the positives and negatives from this game.
3 Things I Liked:
- Tyson Walker’s milestone. The BTN commentators made this the big talking point of the game until Tyson finally made the shot that earned him his 1,000th point in a Spartan uniform. And what a shot it was - a baseline jumper where he was fouled and knocked down, allowing him to pick up one more point at the line. By Walker’s standards, it was a bit of a quiet night as he only netted 14 points, but he still led all Spartans in the box score. A pair of Oakland players outscored him. Still, Tyson’s skill was on display in this game and you can get the feeling that he is taking his game to a new level right now.
- The Center position. The only reason I didn’t put this at one is because I wanted to give Tyson his due. This has chronically been the first point in my dislikes, but we are finally starting to see a reversal of the lack of scoring from the Spartan bigs which has plagued the early portion of this season. Last night, Sissoko (who seems like he has permanently won back the starting role) and Cooper each shot 3-3 from the field, 1-2 from the line, and had 8 rebounds. Cooper also added one steal and one block. Admittedly, two of Cooper’s baskets were put back slams, so not exactly plays going inside to him, but that does not negate the fact that we are seeing an uptick in the amount of plays where MSU is passing the ball into the interior. There has been a focus on this the last two games, and I am hoping this trend continues and becomes the new normal.
- “European Butt Screen”. This one from the commentator gave me a chuckle when referencing Hall’s posturing in setting a screen which allowed Hoggard to drive for an easy layup. It will require some more research on my part, but this may also be a bathroom accessory of the British aristocracy.
3 Things I Did Not Like:
- No Steven Izzo time. In the press conference after the Baylor game, Tom Izzo did go out of the way to lambast his son for not being able to make FTs and for having turnovers, but I never thought he would react to the extreme of not putting him in when the game is in hand. Come on Tom, we need this. Let Steven Play!
- Giving up 16 offensive rebounds. Another regular talking point of the commentators was how Oakland’s frequency of hoisting three-point shots has a tendency to cause long rebound opportunities. I would have hoped that, at some point, MSU could have adjusted how they were spacing the floor on defense to help them get in better position for those long boards. I don’t know how many 2nd chance points those 16 offensive rebounds led to, but hopefully this gets fixed by the time we get to January.
- Malik Hall shooting. I am leaving this for last because I want this to be the main discussion for TOC over the next couple days. Last night, Malik shot 1-7 from the field and ended up with five points thanks to his going 3-4 on FTs. He only had one rebound and one assist on top of that. TOC commenter Woolly Bugger really got me thinking about this the other day. Is there a change needed in the starting lineup? Should Hall revert to the bench, where he was most of last season? If so, does Coen Carr take his spot on the top line? Does Xavier Booker take that spot, even with the holes still present in his game? I am not ready to include Jaxon Kohler in this conversation until we see him back for a few games.
Who should be starting at PF for MSU for the rest of the season?
This poll is closed
Let TOC know what you think.