Ugly, yet Beautiful| View Comments
Winning the Big Ten conference is a great accomplishment. But over the years, it’s been proven that reaching the summit isn’t always a thing of beauty.
Last night, the Spartans saw the uglier side of things in their five point triumph in Minneapolis. However, a win, no matter how ugly, is always a pleasant sight for sore eyes.
The Spartans were outworked on the glass by a 33-27 tally…and, for the first 30 minutes they were also out-hustled. But despite those deficiencies, the Spartans proved to be up to the challenge yet again.
“We got outplayed most of the game, I’m gonna make no ifs, ands or buts about it," said Izzo afterwards. “The effort-related things just weren’t there. The only thing I would give this team credit for is, if you’re in a championship-type run, you’ve got to steal a game somewhere"
Outside of Draymond Green (whose 17 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 4 steal performance was considered an off night), consistent individual performances haven’t been this team’s norm. What has been consistent for this team however, is that one or two other individuals ALWAYS step up. So let's give credit, where credit is due.
Lost in the midst of Keith Appling’s tech and two critical fouls on jumpshots – leading to seven free throws by the Gophers - he recorded five assists and didn’t turn the ball over a single time. Appling also connected on six straight free throws in the final minute to ice the game away.
We also saw a solid, 13-point performance by Brandon Wood, a guy who hadn’t scored in double figures since a January win over Iowa. Of those 13, eight came in a seven-plus minute second half time stretch, when he was the only Spartan to record a field goal (MSU also made seven free throws). Wood also contributed to the stifling MSU defense over the final 10 minutes of regulation. He was only credited with one steal, but he played the passing lanes well and forced his man to work well beyond the 3-point line.
On a night where the atypical Spartans allowed Minnesota to shoot 45.7-percent from the field and outrebound them by six, MSU escaped, thanks to some key, yet over-looked numbers.
As a team, the Spartans turned the ball over a season low five times. Defensively, they recorded nine steals - six of which came in the decisive 27-13 run in the final ten minutes. During that same run, the Gophers made just two field goals.
Winning in the Big Ten is sometimes ugly. The Spartans proved as much in last night in Minneapolis.
Their first place, 12-3 conference record however, is a thing of beauty.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE
Last night's win in Minneapolis was MSU's 5th straight victory at Williams Arena. In fact, on February 22nd of last year, the Spartans trailed the Gophers 47-40 with 3:37 remaining, only to go on a 13-1 run to close the game. Final score 53-48. Same five point margin as last night.
You think the Gophers want to play the Spartans in Minneapolis on February 22nd next year? I doubt it.
Following Green's 17 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 4 steal performance in Minnesota, he is now 10 rebounds away from 1,000 and 11 assists away from 400.
When he hits those marks, he will be the only Spartan to have 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 assists in his career.
Green's four steals moved him into a 4th place tie with Travis Walton, at 167 career steals. He is one steal behind Mark Montgomery for 3rd.
Day Day recorded one blocked shot as well. He is now all alone in 2nd place all time with 107 career blocks.
What a great player.