Sunday, January 4, 2009

Michigan State Handles Northwestern 77-66

The Spartans improved to 2-0 in conference play behind an amazing performance by Raymar Morgan who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Kalin Lucas chipped in 18 points with 15 of them coming in the second half. This marks the first time in school history that the Spartans begin the Big Ten season with two victories on the road.

Player of the Game: Raymar Morgan 23 points and 13 rebounds

What went well:
1) Solid perimeter defense - Michigan State held Northwestern's three-point shooters to 9-29, which is well off of their 40% season average. In particular, Travis Walton did a very nice job pressuring the ball and frustrating his opponents. This Wildcat team seemed to be less disciplined compared to their teams in the past. Northwestern was too one dimensional just focusing on chucking up threes instead of running their Princeton Offense.
2.) Great rebounding - Hopefully this continues to be a recurring theme. The Spartans dominated the glass on both ends of the floor outrebounding the Wildcats 47-28. The 19-10 advantage in offensive rebounds was key in this victory.
3.) Raymar Morgan played a great game - He took full advantage of his athleticism against the less talented Wildcats and gathered his second consecutive double-double. It was almost as if he heard the comments made by Tim Doyle in the Big Ten Network's pregame show (more on this later). My only concern is that I hope his success from the 3-pt line (2-4) doesn't encourage him to shoot more from the outside in future games. I felt he got away with a few bad shots where he was clearly being defended, but the shots went down. I think he should only shoot from long distance if he is truly wide open.
4.) Kalin Lucas and Chris Allen continue to produce - Lucas had a slow start to the game, but really emerged in the second half. Chris Allen had his second consecutive productive game by shooting 4-7 from the 3-point line and finishing with 17 points. Hopefully he will continue to be a regular contributor to this team.
5.) Marquise Gray made a solid contribution - He only played 12 minutes, but was very productive with 5 rebounds and a nice no-look dish to Morgan for a jam. I thought he should have played more in the second half for Suton who was struggling.

What didn't go well:
1) Interior Defense - The Spartans looked horrible in defending the paint. Northwestern got a lot of easy buckets down low. Fortunately for us, they insisted on chucking threes from nearly half court.
2) Goran Suton - This was his worst performance of the year and is the prime example as to why Spartan fans sometimes refer to him as Moron Suton. His defense was definitely a liability as numerous defenders sped past him essentially untouched. He also struggled on the offensive end by bobbling numerous passes and loose balls. It seemed as if he had more turnovers than the one listed in the box score. Hopefully, this is the last we see of Moron and we will get Goran back for the rest of the year.
3) Durrell Summers - He played a significant amount of minutes in this game, but did not seem to utilize them very well. Yes, he had 3 offensive rebounds, but if I remember correctly, that was on the same offensive possession. He finished with only 6 points despite playing more than half of the game.
4) Turnovers - Overall, this wasn't really that big of a deal. But, in the first half, Kalin Lucas did not look sharp. He had all three of his turnovers during that time period leading to a team turnover margin of -5. In the second half, however, we tightened it up and finished with 13 total turnovers.

Post Game Quotes:
"Give Michigan State credit. It's a good team and in the second half, they really went at it in the first five minutes." -Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody

The early minutes of the second half were the key to the Michigan State victory. The Spartans went out to a 12-0 run that forced Bill Carmody to call 3 timeouts and commit a technical foul.

That's ridiculous!
1) Welsh Arena - Was this game even played on campus? Isn't there a standard for D-1 basketball arenas? I'm pretty sure that there is a rule that you can't play games at your local technical high school. The only thing Welsh Arena is missing is a bunch of volleyball lines marked out on the floor.

2) No Photos - Apparently, there were no photographers at the game last night. I've checked my usual websites and no one has any pics from the game. Even the MSU website put up a picture of Raymar Morgan from last year. I'll chalk this one up to the economy.

This post has been edited and will be explained why tomorrow.

"SpartyBasketball, I like your blog. I'm also glad you've learned your lesson on predictions. . . how many was Minnesota supposed to beat State by?
-Anonymous Spartan, Whittier, California

Well, we can only be happy that I was wrong about my Minnesota prediction. I can't predict when we are going to play our best game of the season, but hopefully it wasn't against the Gophers. If we play like we did against them, we will be extremely difficult for any team in the country to beat.

Tomorrow: Ohio State Preview and a brief review of "The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball"

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