#8 MSU Runs Away From the Grizzlies 99-69

Cassius Winston leads the Spartans over Oakland.  Photo:  Rey Del Rio
Cassius Winston leads the Spartans over Oakland. Photo: Rey Del Rio

The Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

The #8 Michigan State Spartans improved their record on the year to 10-2 (2-0) with a 99-69win over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

Tom Izzo said, “There were some good things and there were some bad things. We just didn't guard the three, but I think everybody would agree that of the five three's they hit in the first half, four of them were pretty well guarded and they just made them, give them credit on that. I thought our guard play defensively wasn't good enough and that was disappointing every time we got a lead. We're just going to have to get better defensively in those spots, but we have 27 assists on 38 baskets you know you're really sharing the ball; the ball was moving. I don't have many complaints offensively. Seven turnovers and we had two at the end when it seemed like we got tomahawked, but did a good job there. The effort related things weren't there tonight. The defense wasn't as good at times. The rebounding wasn't as good the whole night. We get outrebounded on the offensive boards, that shouldn't happen. The turnovers were great, so I just thought the effort related things we didn't do as well and give them credit they made some shots. I do like his team, I just told him that. I told him he's got to do like me, he's got to get better defensively because they've got an outside firepower and they've got a hell of a post player in there that can score. I wanted to leave here feeling good, I feel decent. I thought we got some work done on our break, but we're going to spend a little more time on our defense and didn't want to play the Ward game much this week because I knew guys were tired. So, no excuse when we come back. We've got to improve in that area and hopefully, our guys will have a good Christmas, come back ready to go.”

Oakland (Out of the Horizon League) head coach and ICON Greg Kampe said of the Spartans, “I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve never looked at a stat sheet before and saw 47 fast break points. We play fast, and we did not want to play fast. We wanted to walk the ball up the floor, which we did. That kept us from getting transition three’s today. One of the staples of our offense is transition three’s because I have so many guys that can shoot the ball so well. We decided to give that up. We couldn’t stop them. Their speed and Winston is so unbelievable in transition, with his change of direction and change of pace with the ball and the way he can control the ball and find people. The zone (Oakland played) I thought really hurt them. The two things that have been our Achilles heel this season are our half-court defense and our rebounding. They were strengths tonight. We really guarded in the half court. When Xavier (Hill-Mais) fouled out, it was a 12 or 13-point game, we were leading the rebounding battle and they only had four offensive rebounds. I am really proud of the steps we made forward as a team. I’ve never been in a transition like this before where we have nobody that played last year. To put a whole new team out there and come into this environment against a top-10 team in the country, and to compete defensively and on the boards, like they did, I’m really really pleased. I think we’re going to be really good. I like my team, we’re going forward. This was so unlike Michigan State/Oakland games, where there’s normally 40 free throws shot. Our games are usually bloodbaths. Today, it was a bloodbath and nobody was calling anything. They shot 12 and we shot eight.”

Tom Izzo added of the above Kampe quote, “It's funny. I think he's, I'm hoping he's talking more what he saw in the film, but I thought we were good tonight. I thought Nick ran early, but our wings didn't run as good tonight, but I do think we're a good running team. I do think we can get up and down the court, if Cassius is pushing and we subbed a little better and then at the end it was crazy, but we got some guys some rest and I think that would help a little bit. Nick gets in foul trouble and he was having a hell of a game and yet he gets seven rebounds and scored near pretty good. I like the way he ran the court, so I'll tell you more after I watch the film. I didn't think we were as good as we were against Iowa or some of those teams, but I do think we can run and you run better when you rebound. What I was worried about tonight is that we thought our wings and even Nick were sneaking out of there and that's why they got 11 offensive rebounds. They were sneaking out and worrying about running before they rebounded so we'll have to sharpen that up a little bit.”

The Spartans had a 47-6 scoring advantage on points off of the fast break. Prompting Kampe to say, “It’s a different team. As you prepare for them and look at them, there’s no lottery pick out there. I see pros out there, I think both Winston and Ward are pros. There’s no Jaren Jackson Jr. that, last year, we knew we weren’t going to score by the rim. When you prepared for them, you thought there were things you thought you could do against them. Then you go play them, and you find out you can’t. They are the fastest team that I’ve coached against in 40-some years. They’re the fastest team I’ve seen as far as not just fast, but getting something done. They get stuff done with their speed. Ward is unbelievable. You can’t think he’s going to get done the floor like that. We’re trying to sprint back, we’re screaming and yelling about running, and I’ve just never seen a team that’s that fast but also get things done. I give it all to Winston. He is so good with the basketball and gets it to where it belongs. He’s just a smart, he’s enate and has an understanding of the game. I’ve never seen a Michigan State team like that. I’ve seen fast teams, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any team like that. I think they’re not just really good, but really really good.”

The Spartans shot 58% from the field including 43% from the three. The Spartans shot an astounding 83% from the free throw line and had 27 assists on 38 baskets.

The Spartans led the battle of the boards 37-32. More important the Spartans only had seven turnovers.

Izzo played 16 players including all five freshmen. It was a dominating performance against an inferior team, but that is what a #8 ranked team should do.

Izzo said of the play of his freshmen that, “I try to get them more time. I think Gabe can do some things. He got a little lost defensively. I was actually more impressed with Thomas and Marcus a little bit, but Aaron still shows some things. I think Foster it's just a matter of him getting comfortable. It's hard because a couple of those guys maybe should have played two or three more minutes, but it's just the way I do it here, so I'll take the blame for that. I could have gotten them a little more time, but we've still got eight veterans. Kyle's playing really well right now and those eight veterans are all playing well and it's hard to play at nine and ten. They'll get a few more minutes and hopefully, in the next game they'll get some minutes, but it's not going to be like there's a million minutes and they're just going to have to keep getting better in practice. Gabe Brown has gotten a little better in practice lately. We've got him on the scout team and he's playing their best player. He's really improved in that way, I think getting him used to game situations.”

The Spartans return to action against Northern Illinois back here at the Breslin Center in eight days on Saturday, the 29th of December. The Huskies are coached by Spartan great Mark Montgomery. The tilt with the UNI tips off at 2 PM and that game can be seen on BTN.

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