– First thoughts are that I feel terrible for the seniors, just terrible. With time, they’ll realize they were a part of many, many special things and moments but they had one goal in mind from last April and that’s not going to be achievable. It won’t make me forget the seasons and careers all of them put together here. Hats off for a lot of great memories, great effort and the way they all conducted themselves while they were Spartans. That won’t be forgotten.
– To the game…this was almost a perfect anatomy of an NCAA upset type of game. Usually, one of the things you see is the underdog making a lot of big shots. MTSU absolutely did that. They were a very good shooting team who shot beyond that today and they did it with 4 guys, which is a problem we’re used to causing for the opposition. Second, you have a situation where the underdog tends to win the effort plays. They out rebounded us on the offensive boards by a 10-8 count and did some real damage with those second chances. I thought they were also generally quicker and tougher to the loose balls. When you have those two factors in play, you can get a result like this.
– MTSU really made use of their personnel in this one. It was well understood that they had “big” kids who were both able to shoot and mobile enough to do damage off the dribble. It was just about a perfect storm…they hit some 3s in the first half and then took MSU off the dribble a lot in the second, especially Upshaw, who was an absolute load in this game. We see this type of thing occasionally in November and December (though not this year) when MSU faces a mid major with that kind of set up and it can create problems. That’s no excuse for the loss, because MSU too had some real advantages and didn’t exploit them well enough, and they also didn’t execute defensively at the level they needed to (too many times guys got caught up in help scenarios and left open shooters, for example). It’s just a description of what happened and hats off to the MTSU kids for doing what they did.
– Every game has these but man, we had about 3 different BIG inflection points down the stretch. It felt like any of them going our way could have turned the tide but none did. Two different times when we cut it to 1 and needed a stop and they answered with a 3 or a 3 point play, and then the possession where we were down two and both Bryn and Zel got wide open looks from three and neither could hit.
– Along the “emotion” lines, a fairly obvious point is that MTSU’s start was exactly what you need if you’re going to pull off that kind of game. If they had any doubts about being able to compete, they were gone 5 minutes in. Sometimes that’s the way it goes…a team hits shots and you’re left to deal with it.