Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spartans tough enough against Penn St.

Michigan State may have been caught looking a head. Before today's game during warm ups Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to huddle his team up for a fierce talk. The coach did not like what he was seeing and sensed a lack of focus from his team.

Sometimes one's own intuition is a great predictor. 

Don't expect Tom Izzo to be beaming about the 77-57 victory over Penn State. The sluggish start and poor shooting (0-8 to start) caused the Spartans to struggle offensively. Luckily for them their opponent had an even worse start to the game which allowed the Spartans to grab a 14 lead going in to half time.

The Nittany Lions overcame their offensive woes in the 2nd half by going on a 17-6 run and chipped the Spartan's 22 point lead at the time down to 5, midway through the 2nd half. Penn State was lead  by point guard Tim Frazier, who scored 19 points.

As the Nittany Lions clawed their way back Draymond Green took over from the offensive end. Hitting timely jumpers and free throws allowed the Spartans to avoid a collapse and regain a 20 plus point lead.  Green lead the Spartans with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.

Someone seems to have come to expect these kind of performances from Green. "He's supposed to do that," Izzo said after the game. "And, we're supposed to get him the ball."

Andreian Payne tied his career high with 12 points, a good confidence boost for him going in Saturday's road game. Branden Dawson was again impressive and scored in double figures again for the 5th straight game. He poured in 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. The freshman forward continues to make very athletic plays around the bucket. Seeing the improvement this late in the season is a good sign of no 'freshman wall' insight, in fact the 'freshman wall' may have been blasted through already. Keith Appling played a solid game at the point. Scoring 10 points with 7 assists and only 1 TO. The Spartans ended up with four players in scoring in double figures.

For the 2nd straight game Brandon Wood came off the bench. This might be something Izzo sticks with as long as the team keeps on winning. Hopefully Wood will not take this a demotion since Izzo would be giving him the same amount of minutes regardless if he came off the bench or started.

Despite the lapses they ended with a 20 point win. What you can hope for is that the Spartans got this one out of their systems. The team focus can now solely be on Ohio State. The Spartans travel to Columbus for a prime time match up this Saturday. With first place on the line, no game will be bigger.

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