Figured it was more or less a tossup and that’s the way it played out. Great play by Allen to win the game for them (Josh Langford slipped soon after the inbound…just a mild slip but it was enough to put him behind the entire way up the floor and it cost MSU. It happens). Some quick thoughts…
– I thought rebounding and turnovers would be two areas where if there was separation between the two teams it could be costly. Honestly, there wasn’t much…except that UA narrowly did win both categories. They had a 36-33 edge on the glass (12-11 on offense) and had 14 TOs to MSU’s 17. I do think UA seemed to cash in a little more on second chances and off TOs than MSU did, but I haven’t seen those final stats…that’s just an impression at this point.
– You saw all of it with Miles tonight. Obviously had a season’s worth of highlight dunks in one game and that was great. I also thought he did a pretty damned good job of defending in the post and he had 7 boards (3 offensive, which was nice to see). Yet, I thought the thing I had worried about a bit in the preseason, settling for shots when he should be focused on getting to the trim, reared its head in this game. Markkanen had no chance of guarding him out on the floor, and when Miles did take him off the dribble, he abused him…but he settled a lot, and especially down the stretch, he contributed to some bad possessions. Still, the talent is immense. He’s got to learn from this and let it come to him.
– One area where I thought MSU had a big advantage coming in was jumpshooting. They struggled from 3…8-25 from deep. This team is better than 32% from deep. One of those things.
– Relating to that point, I thought one way MSU hurt themselves at winning time was not running some stuff looking to get open looks for Matt McQuaid. He was the one guy who was dialed in and I know the kid has icewater in his veins. Again, a lot of possessions where MSU settled for stuff and didn’t get the kind of movement you want.
– On defense, one positive and one negative. The positive is that I thought MSU did a really good job defending the post. Markkanen had to really earn his points and Ristic, who is a good offensive player, couldn’t get anything going. Yet, the perimeter defense was really, really bad. Just couldn’t keep guys in front of them.
The good news is I think that the perimeter D is a mortal lock to get a lot better. It’ll take time and it’ll come in fits and starts, but it will get better. The interior D is the thing where they’re limited in terms of personnel…I’d take this kind of effort from those guys and run with it every day of the week.
– Tough night for Cash and Josh. Both got in foul trouble and never got on track. Cash really struggled defensively, which should surprise absolutely no one who’s paying attention. It’s a process, people. The reality is MSU was better tonight at both ends with Tum on the floor. It won’t always be that way, but it was tonight without question.
Josh looked rusty, plain and simple. Loved that one first half bucket he got in semi transition with a little old man funk to get an angle on a shot. That might be the worst game we’ll see from him all year.
On the positive side, Nick Ward acquitted himself pretty well, I thought. He was excitable…blew a couple finishes at the rim he shouldn’t ever miss, but he didn’t look out of place at all. Now, I will say, I didn’t think Arizona put him through the kind of pick and roll stuff he’ll see from some other teams, for whatever reason, but for tonight, he was solid on D and showed his vast potential at the other end.
– Need more, more, more from Eron Harris. He did some good things at both ends late but he just can’t play that way for the majority of the game. He’s too good and this team needs him too much.
In the end, disappointing they took the loss in a winnable game but as usual, it’s the process. This is what happens. You play good opponents and you find out about yourself in a hurry. MSU learned some things tonight. They’re going to learn more things over the next few weeks. No big deal.