MSU 25, UConn 21 – halftime musings: Spartans survive heckuva blow

NEW YORK — I’ve written recently about Michigan State’s ability to absorb a punch. But during this six-game run, opponent’s have only ever landed a blow after being nearly run off the court.

This time, Connecticut did the overwhelming out of the gate. The Huskies jumped out 12-2, while MSU missed 9 of 10 shots to begin the game.

For a moment, I’m not sure MSU believed it was the better team. There was that look of urgency and concern.

Since, the Spartans are 8 of 14 shooting – but they survived with defense. They scored the final nine points of the half, holding UConn scoreless for more than five minutes.

The defense on the perimeter during that stretch — chasing, switching, closing out, locking down — was as impressive as I’ve seen anywhere in college basketball all season.

MSU needed Gary Harris in this game and he’s delivered — 12 points, 5 of 7 shooting, 2 of 4 3s.

UConn makes it difficult on MSU’s bigs, more so than I realized, because the Huskies are athletic and wiry, and Dawson and Payne aren’t natural bulldozers.

That was an incredibly interesting half of basketball. MSU’s played a few of those lately, and keeps winding up ahead.

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27 Responses to MSU 25, UConn 21 – halftime musings: Spartans survive heckuva blow

  1. avatar slouchy bud responds to Hoke says:

    Sparty was distracted because all the players minds are on the Michigan Kentucky game. They can’t wait to get this over with so they can watch the main event whole nation wants to see Michigan Kentucky expect Super Bowl numbers as Wolves cut down the nets tonight in Indy

  2. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    i turned it off when it was 11-2. i am watching a frankie avalon annette funicello movie. my wife is mad and i told her to go in the bedroom if she wants to watch. i have serious problems.

    • avatar craig neal says:

      I feel your pain JJ. I get that way with Spartan Football. I will get PO’ed and leave the house and jump on my Harley,(I live in South Carolina and it’s warm during football season) and drive away. When I return, usually the Spartans got the victory. I’m happy, but the wife is po’ed!!!!!!! Go Green!!!!!

  3. avatar SteveL says:

    Mentally not in the game . So many turn overs simply by not thinking and protecting the ball. Looks like UC wants it more. Too much school yard basketball in this one. You don’t advance with that type of play.

  4. avatar SteveL says:

    All streaks eventually come to an end and it looks like Izzo’s (1st class not getting to a Final Four) will today.

  5. avatar SteveL says:

    Credit to UConn for stifling the the offense. They came ready to play.

  6. avatar Beemer says:

    I remember watching UConn and MSU last year on the aircraft carrier and here was a coach, Kevin Ollie, who UConn didn’t even want. He was an intrim coach and they were looking for a real coach, and he OUTCOACHED Izzo bad in that game and here he does it again.

    • avatar slouchy bud responds to Hoke says:

      The Izzo era is over with MSU had its run but this is the end of the Izzo era MS U Winn not reach the elite eight again for twenty years so as TomIzzorides off into the sunset lets all get behind our Wolverines MSU Owns Hoke is putting on his Maize and Blue shirt right now listen close I think I hear Hoke singing this song

      Hail to the victors valiant
      Hail to the conquering heroes
      Hail Hail to Michigan
      The Champions of the Big Ten

  7. avatar slouchy bud responds to Hoke says:

    Mark says hi prison guard

    Watch The Michigan win

    • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

      Tell Mark I greatly enjoyed the Michigan loss and that I heard remedial does a great job cleaning toilets.

  8. avatar IBleedGreen says:

    I couldn’t watch the game…just couldn’t take the stress. UConn’s 22 charity stripe attempts to our 8 seems like an awfully poor job on the officials playing the home crowd. This has been an awful season for officiating all around. Think the NCAA needs to revisit the latest rule changes…

  9. avatar SteveL says:

    Thanks to Appling and Payne for their 4 years of dedicated efforts to Spartan basketball. And also to the practice team seniors for their contribution these past 4 years. You are and always be a special part of Spartan Nation.
    Now this debacle. Izzo’s adage of get me through the first game and I will get you through the second was an abject failure today. He did not hold up his end, badly. Completely outcoached. Had no answer for UConn’s defense tying up the inside play of our bigs. This team was not mentally ready to play. Buying in to all the hype (ie. Izzo on USA mag, Harris on SI, pre-season hype and fast start out of the gate before the injuries. etc, etc) just mentally took us out of our focus. . TI had no answer for his game plan not working. A Big Ten Tournament Championship was an ok consolation prize, but that has worn off long ago when much more was expected. On a scale of 1-10 I would put this season at a 6. Far from what could have been. Going forward I think next year we will just have to set a goal that we can make the tournament. I don’t see any elite eights or beyond for some years to come.

    • avatar SteveL says:

      Also Izzo’s philosophy of playing all types of styles of play in the pre conference to prepare for the NCAAs sure didn’t pay off today. Now the next 8 days will be a real bi— since I live behind the cheddar curtain and will have to put up with all the “Cheese Weasels” glowing press coverage. You would think it was the second coming. Some one help me !!!

  10. avatar Old Fan says:

    2 comments. Why was Iowa State, a 3, and MSU, a 4; playing Connecticut a 7 on their ‘home court’? 4 years of Appling, a very good player, trying to be a point guard never materialized as hoped.

  11. avatar GoGreen says:

    Since 2000, I think this one has hurt the most. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. It wasn’t that MSU played so poorly, because UConn didn’t play a good game, either. I think that’s what makes it worse. We needed Dawson, and he was nowhere to be found. You’re going to have those games where nothing if falling, but you have to find a way to make it work.

    But, I take solace in that we won’t have to hear the unsufferable bragging of Michigan.

    • avatar SteveL says:

      Amen to the scUM loss. Helps to think the skunk weasels are in the same boat . And no gloating . Bring on football. Will be a long 5 months to endure until them.

      • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

        and the difference is scUM is ecstatic going to the Elite 8 while we are disappointed, the programs are still far apart just by that right there.

  12. avatar GoGreen says:

    And, Wisconsin in the Final Four to represent the Big 10? Dear lord. Anything really can happen in March.

    I hope Kentucky takes this whole thing, if even just to piss off Louisville even more.

    • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

      I’m pulling for Wisky, but if they can’t do it, go KY, cause Fla is gonna gang rape Uconn and I can’t stand Donovan.

  13. avatar SteveL says:

    And to think UConn wasn’t allowed in the tournament last year and this year a Final Four. Go figure.

  14. avatar GoGreen says:

    After having hours to digest this – but still not having the heart to see any media – national or local, television or online – these are my feelings…

    I’ve already heard some Spartans grumbling in the hours since that they were dumb to believe that this would be the year. And to that I just have to say “bull.” We didn’t get blown out, and we didn’t play a horrible game. We simply didn’t play at the elite level expected of us, and for that we are deserving of the loss. But, let there be no mistake, after being laughed out of contention just last month (and after being lauded before the season even began just to show you how fickle they are), we proved with this run that the 24th place ranking was ridiculous. This run vindicates the undeniable fact that this team was at least one of the top 8 programs in the country this year.

    You can be angry that the time finally ran out to fully prove our potential, but don’t feel stupid for believing, because this team displayed again and again that they could have taken this all the way. UConn pulled out every trick in the bag to frustrate us, and they won that game, and that’s how you win against teams more talented than your own. You can’t take that away from them. But, make no mistake about it, this was a championship caliber team in a way even some of the programs remaining in the tournament aren’t.

    My only negative point? I think this season and tournament run lends very credible evidence to the argument that some have been making for years that maybe Izzo is overrated. I’m not sure which side of the argument I fall on, tonight, just hours after this season ended, but I think I’m warming up to the idea that Izzo may not be the end all/be all of the program…and maybe that’s a good thing to realize given that he can’t be here forever. All the moving parts never fully came together, this season, and A LOT of that was on a few individual players. I think the end of this season provided ample evidence that even after four years that Appling didn’t have the mental toughness to make this work. I’ve found him more confounding and harder to wrap my mind around than Kalin Lucas who had the exact opposite problem, which was the mental toughness but not the skills. I feel particularly bad as far as he seniors are concerned for Chapman and Payne in all of this. Payne did almost every single thing he could this season, often carrying the team on his back.

    But, your job as a coach is to make that work. And maybe the worse thing Tom did all season was the other night when he said publically before god and man in front of every camera that he could find that if they got him to the Elite 8, he could get them to a Final 4.

    Do not make promises you don’t know you can keep.

    • avatar IBleedGreen says:

      Really?? You’re going to call Tom Izzo an overrated coach? Please give me a moment because I can’t believe I just read that. A statement like that smacks of a sky is falling mentality. If anything, I think this was probably one of Izzo’s best coached season. Have you had opportunity to coach in a season where the majority of your star players are down due to injury or illness? Who would have predicted that? Yet, despite all that, this team made it to the Elite 8 and should have been in the Final 4 save some turnovers and some whistle happy refs. Not to take anything away from UConn’s game plan, but 22 trips to the free throw line to the other team’s 8 is ridiculous.
      Despite all the challenges faced this season, Izzo never gave up on this team’s chances and it would have been easy to do that. This is a guy who is mentioned in the same breath as Wooden, Knight, Krzyzewski, and other great coaches. He may not have the national championships to tout, but that’s not the end all and be all of what makes a great coach.

      Take a step back, allow the tide of your emotions to pass, and then look at this season with an objective eye and then see if you still feel that coach is overrated. I think you’d be hard pressed to say that he is. He has earned every accolade that has been afforded him. At the end of the day, he’s a great coach and even the great coaches lose games.

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