The Spartans defeat the mini-Spartans in a rout: 85-45. I had the chance to watch this one in person–and it was the kind of game you want to see your team play against a patsy. MSU built a 15-point half time lead and didn’t let up–outscoring San Jose State by 25 in the second half. MSU played with suffocating defensive intensity throughout and converted the defensive effort into points on the fast break.
As their stats indicated coming in, San Jose State didn’t bring much to the table offensively. Justin Graham–he of the Pistol Pete-wannabe mop top–could create some if he got into the paint, but eventually the MSU defenders figured out he was going to go to the spin move most trips down the lane. And San Jose State didn’t have the scorers to take advantage of Graham’s passing ability. Eventually, San Jose State just lost the will to work on offense and started turning the ball over on what seemed like every other possession.
Izzo clearly wanted to use this game to build his team’s intensity going into the game against Texas on Saturday. With about two and a half minutes left, San Jose State scored several times down the court to get their point total over the hump of being more than half of MSU’s total. Izzo immediately called a timeout to get on his team about their lack of defensive intensity.
One minor gripe: There were three or four bad fouls committed by Spartan defenders in the backcourt. I understand Izzo wants to pressure the ball to take advantage of our depth, but those sorts of fouls can hurt in a closer game when they allow an opponent to start shooting free throws earlier in the half.
OK, on to the box score. (Notice how I went four full paragraphs before resorting to my usual analyze-the-box-score schtick!)
- At 74 possessions, this was the highest-tempo game MSU has played to date. This was largely a function of San Jose State’s turnovers (23, for a TO% of 31.1%), which led to 20 fast break points for MSU. Justin Graham turned the ball over 8 times.
- San Jose State couldn’t muster any offense, making only 1 of 11 3-point attempts (9.1%) and 17 of 49 2-point attempts (34.7%). 45 points in 74 possessions equates to a downright dismal 0.61 points per possession.
- MSU pulled down 17 of 38 offensive rebounding opportunities (44.7%). Only for this team, could that stat be described as “ho hum.”
- Durrell Summers had a breakout game, scoring 16 points on a combination of fast break baskets and mid-range jumpers. He did take 14 FG attempts to score those points; a few of his jump shot attempts were a bit forced.
- Walton scored only 2 points on 1-6 shooting. But he had 10 assists versus just one turnover and swiped the ball 4 times.
- 14 points on just 9 FG attempts for Neitzel. His shooting stroke looked like it was back to being Neitzelesque from my vantage point.
- 16 quiet point from Morgan on 6-10 shooting.
- 13 blocked shots for the Spartans–4 each for Naymick and Suton and 2 for Tom Herzog, who got himself 8 minutes on the floor. Suton added 4 steals, too–quite the defensive menace.
- And last, but not least: Marquise Gray recorded an assist! His first of the season. Anyone remember the play on which it occurred?
Alright, enough with the statistical superlatives. Bring on those Longhorns. 6:30 Saturday night. ESPN2. Tickets are still available for those interested in a visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills.