Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Delvon Roe Leads MSU Past Michigan 54-42

Michigan State grinded out their sixth consecutive road win in the Big Ten as they defeated Michigan 54-42. Kalin Lucas led the Spartans with 15 points, while Delvon Roe had a career high 14 points. DeShawn Sims paced the Wolverines with 18 points.

Player of the Game: Delvon Roe 14 points, 10 rebounds

What Went Well For the Spartans
1) Emphasis on Getting the Ball Inside - From the opening tip, it was clear that Michigan State was going to take my advice and pound the ball down low. They tried to exploit Michigan's lack of height by getting Roe and Suton involved early. Delvon ended up being the biggest beneficiary with his career night while Suton struggled somewhat (8 pts on 2-7 shooting).
2) Great Defense - Led by Travis Walton, the Spartans played great pressure defense. Recognizing Michigan's tendencies to chuck up threes from all over the court, they extended their defense out a few feet further than they normally play and harassed their shooters all night. Walton held Manny Harris to 7 points on 2-10 shooting, including 1-6 from the 3-pt line.
3) Free Throws - MSU unexpectedly performed better at the free throw line than the Wolverines. The Spartans cashed in on 15 of 19 attempts while Michigan converted only 6 of 11. Michigan came into this game hitting 77% of their free throws.
4) Lack of Turnovers - I thought MSU did an excellent job of taking care of the basketball, especially against Michigan's high pressure defense. The Wolverines hasselled us all night and look really athletic in that 1-3-1 zone. It truly was a great performance by the Spartans.

What Didn't Go So Well
1) Rebounding - This is the most concerning aspect of this game. The Spartans only managed to grab a +3 rebounding margin against the Wolverines. Michigan actually grabbed more offensive rebounds than MSU as they had 9 and we had 8. This was the second straight contest where Michigan State has not blown away their competition in the rebounding margin. We were +5 against Indiana.
2) Durrell Summers - Summers got the nod from Tom Izzo in this game, presumably due to his height on the perimeter to guard against three point shots. But, he really didn't do much on the offensive end finishing 3-8 with 8 points in 31 minutes. I didn't think that Durrell Summers was playing good enough to limit Chris Allen to 9 minutes in this game.
3) Marquise Gray - As you know, I think we should try to get Gray more involved in the offense, but his two minutes of playing time last night illustrate why Tom Izzo is reluctant to do so. Immediately after he entered the first half of the game, he let Zack Gibson blow right by him for a layup. Then in Michigan State's following possession, he turned the ball over down in the post. I thought he had another turnover in that span too, but the official box score only listed him as having one. Personally, I think Izzo did the right thing here. I would manage Gray the same way. Let him play early and if he plays great, keep him in there. If he plays like a basket case, sit him down.
4) Poor Substitutions - As tradition, I have to get my regular criticism of Coach Izzo's substitutions in right here although, in general Izzo did a great job. Aside from Durrell Summers getting too many of Chris Allen's minutes, the only gripe I had was why did we need Austin Thornton in the game with 11 minutes to go? The only possible explanation is that he wanted some height on the perimeter for defense, but even then, I would have still went with Chris Allen as he isn't a bad defender and he can give you a lot more on the offensive end. Luckily, Thornton's two and a half minutes didn't hurt us, but it could have.

Post Game Analysis of My Preview
Without question, this was a weird game. Both teams strayed away from how they normally perform. Michigan State narrowly outrebounded the wolverines who are normally horrible on the boards. Michigan also uncharacteristically missed free throws and was more turnover prone than the Spartans.

Yesterday, I thought that the key to a victory would be Michigan's three-point shooting versus a stellar performance from either Durrell Summers or Chris Allen. Well, as it turns out neither team had success in these areas. Michigan went 4-24 from behind the arc and both Michigan State players really failed to make an impact. In the end, I think it came down to MSU's defense out playing the Wolverine defense.

Post Game Feelings
After watching the game last night, I was surprised by how unexcited I was with our victory. It had nothing really to do with how we played, but more about how in reality, it was just another game on our schedule that we were supposed to win. Yes, it was a rivalry game, but a rivalry game where we were the favorite for what seems like the 15th consecutive time. I would imagine that this is how Michigan fans feel each autumn when they beat us in football.

Tell me how you all feel.

"Everybody loves to beat Michigan on its own court, and it's a big thrill to do that, but it's not the highlight of our season." --Delvon Roe

"A lot of it had to do with their defense," Harris acknowledged. "They were really tough." --Copperyale Harris

Tomorrow - More Michigan Post Game

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