– I’m of two minds about the end of the game. On the one hand, I understand continuing to play hard until the final whistle, etc. On the other…f*** off pressing walk ons when you’re down 18 with 2 minutes left. Second time it’s happened recently and I’m glad Iz brought the starters back in (though that wasn’t his motivation…it sure would have been mine). Know when you’re beat and act accordingly.
– Great, great defensive play by MSU throughout. I thought Eron Harris and the bigs did a great job containing Koenig, something MSU simply could not do in Madison. Nigel Hayes got flat out erased. Now, some of that might be attributable to a low motor or whatever else was going on with him, but I thought DD in particular but other guys as well (Marv at times, Gav at times) all did a great job staying solid on him. MSU wasn’t biting on fakes and didn’t let him get cleanly to the rim.
In general, MSU did a fine job dealing with the Swing, which is designed to force switches and exploit physical mismatches.
– As part of that defensive effort, MSU kept Wiscy off the FT line. The Badgers went 11-17 for the game, 5 FTA below their seasonal average. When you hold a team to 34% from the floor AND don’t put them on the stripe, you’ve done a complete defensive job.
– Only thing I didn’t care for defensively was the rebounding job. Wisconsin had 14 offensive boards and at times, just seemed to be at a higher compete level than MSU was, getting to long boards quicker, fighting a little harder in the paint, etc. That will be a point of emphasis for Izzo heading into Columbus, believe it.
– On offense, not a lot to complain about. Wisconsin isn’t a great defensive team. As long as you don’t kick the ball around and keep it moving, you will generally get good shots against them and that’s what we saw. 46/47% for the game is certainly in the acceptable range and if anything, I think MSU could have even shot a bit better with a touch more rim luck…had quite a few hard luck misses in this game by my count.
Last two thoughts:
1. Denzel Valentine is the National POY. Is he going to win it? Tough call, but he’s got a hell of a shot now with the way he’s been playing in marquee games and Buddy Hield declining a bit. One note few are talking about…part of Buddy Mania was IMO centered around the fact that his team was on top of the Big XII…well, they’re not winning that league, so that advantage he appeared to have over Zel is now gone. With MSU closing strongly and Zel kicking ass on a nightly basis, I think the case for him is building steadily.
2. As noted after Purdue, MSU is not losing again in the regular season. Book it.