Michigan State vs Minnesota Basketball Escape: 3 Quick Hits
1. MSU survives against the Gophers, but that won’t get it done
EAST LANSING If you have AJ Hoggard longing for Joey Hauser for a winning layup at the bell on your Bingo card on Wednesday night, well, Bingo.
Michigan State can look like a team you can imagine competing for the Big Ten Championship and playing in the Sweet 16. Then you watch the Spartans stretch out and wonder if they’re better than Minnesota State.
There was plenty of this last in the Wednesday night escape 71-69 against the Gophers team game.
This was the first game since the Champions Classic that I thought the MSU opponent often played with more purpose and focus. Minnesota certainly learned from their recent loss to the Spartans in December. He created and made a good look.
You could tell this game would come to a suspicious end when the Spartans left 30-21 a late lead in the first half to only 34-31 at the break after a sloppy, uninspiring few minutes before the break.
Then it got weird too. Tyson Walker called out at 10:43 and didn’t return, looking faltered and frustrated after a spin, but also after a good period of play. Marcus Bingham Jr. did not play the final 10:14. A MSU team without Walker and Bingham might not be better than Minnesota.
In that respect, the Spartans are right to feel good about surviving. They burned out. He made enough plays, just enough rebounds, one more than a Minnesota team not known for rebounding.
MSU looked a little tired. And like her you do not have answers. It certainly wasn’t defensive. The Gophers played as the NCAA Championship team. credit them. But the Michigan State University team we saw on Wednesday is having trouble in Wisconsin and Illinois.
But at the moment, 5-0 is 5-0. Nobody is better in the Big Ten. So far.
2. New Student Ideas – Minnesota Edition, Part Two
It became clear that Max Christie had found a groove in his shot. That continued on Wednesday night, when he made 7 of 12 shots, including 2 of 3 3s for 16 points (with five rebounds and four assists). There was absolutely no hesitation in filming. Now the shots are falling. His first triple Wednesday is an example of the kind of devastating shooter that can be – pulling a 3 from the right side, the defender thinks he put his hand in place to deter the shot.
Subsequently, Christie’s primary streak jump early in the second half was an important bucket at a shaky time for the Spartans. Same for the trail drag bucket to give MSU a 61-55 lead when things were still tight and lagging. And again with a jump off the screen to put MSU ahead 69-64 as the two-minute mark approached.
I wrote back when Christy had his first big game of the season at Butler, that I didn’t know what it would be like to see Christy shoot so much, but we’re far from it. We are still. Part of its effectiveness is that it does not catch shots and forces an attack. However, the more times you shoot, the better for MSU. Even with his first-half jitters at Northwestern in his homecoming, he’s now hit 23 of 37 in his last four games, including 11 to 17 from distance. It was only a matter of time.
He had a couple of turns on Wednesday that looked like they had passed out of fatigue – and one on the verge of turning at the last minute seemed out of hesitation or nerves. Still a student. Much is required of him, including his budding offensive game.
Jaden Akins has settled in well for what I think his role will be this season. He’ll probably have a game of number two or two sometime in the next couple of months, but those days are mostly in the coming seasons. He did well in his role on Wednesday night. I think the Spartans can be confident that he will make a difference in certain ways – on the glass and in his defense.
His steal in the first half, with MSU leading 27-19, had a chance to be one of the plays in the game, when, after racing on the field, he dropped an invisible pass to Gabe Brown behind the arc. Brown missed the No. 3 which would have put the Spartans ahead and bring the crowd to a different decibel. But that doesn’t change the play Akins put on.
Akins’ lead and he applied it to Tyson Walker for a 3-pointer lead and a 51-45 lead 13 minutes from the end was one of the biggest plays. Walker began to find a rhythm. He faltered at the lead, took it to Akins, who did not hesitate, and hit the teeth of the defense, which left Walker alone at the 3-point line on the opposite wing. Akins seemed like the primary bouncer who might one day be on that play. Just one help, but a very important one.
3. MSU could use another boost from Marcus Bingham
For a while, every big night Marcus Bingham had was either better than the last or notable because of who he was up against. It was a force at times. still present. Still making an impact. I’m still doing good things. But the Spartans could use another dash from Bingham, another night when their seemingly huge man alters every shot in the paint, posing a problem for the opponent.
Bingham appears to have reached some point of stability. Wednesday had six points in 3-of-5 shootings, four saves and a couple rebounds in 17 minutes. He got more than he showed on Wednesday. We have seen it. The question is, can he go back and stay there?
Bingham did not play the final 10:14 on Wednesday. I don’t know if there is more than not being given enough in court. But MSU isn’t going anywhere this season as Bingham missed the last quarter of games.
Contact Graham Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @graham_couch.