Nov. 28, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Tom Izzo sat down at his news conference after Michigan State’s 18-point win and started listing all the things the Spartans did wrong.
Sounds like a man who is about to play Duke.
“I’m going to go to sleep tonight thinking about turnovers,” Izzo said. “The turnovers and the missed free throws are concerning – very disappointed in our guard play early. … We can use all the million excuses about looking ahead or travel, but I’m very disappointed.”
Durrell Summers scored 21 points, and No. 2 Michigan State beat Tennessee Tech 73-55 Sunday, but with a trip to play top-ranked Duke up next, Izzo saw plenty that concerned him.
The Spartans will surely drop in the rankings before taking on the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night. Michigan State lost to Connecticut earlier this week at the Maui Invitational, and although the Spartans bounced back with a victory over Washington, they remain a work in progress.
Michigan State turned the ball over 17 times and went 9 of 16 from the free throw line against the Golden Eagles (0-3) of the Ohio Valley Conference. Izzo also wasn’t pleased with his team’s attention to rebounding.
“I don’t think this team respects that,” Izzo said. “Hopefully we’re going to be able to watch some film and show them what it’s costing us, but that’s why this is a good game Wednesday, because if we do learn to respect it, we’ll play well. If we don’t learn to respect it, we’ll get embarrassed.”
After a sloppy start, Michigan State finally went on a brief run near the end of the first half. Summers threw down an alley-oop dunk from Draymond Green while drawing a foul, then made the free throw for a 21-16 lead. Moments later, Adreian Payne’s one-handed dunk put the Spartans ahead by nine.
They entered halftime ahead 32-20.
“I think our confidence is fine,” Summers said. “I think we’re just forcing the issue sometimes. We’ve got to just slow down and let the game come to us.”
Summers finished 8 of 11 from the field and surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career. Green finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Kalin Lucas scored 15 points for Michigan State.
“We didn’t really have a lot of energy the first half,” Lucas said. “At halftime, we just told ourselves we needed to bring more life to the game.”
Michigan State (5-1) pushed the lead to 43-23 early in the second half, then the crowd came to its feet in a standing ovation during a timeout – though it wasn’t for anything the team was doing. The crowd was responding to the sight of football coach Mark Dantonio on the big screen.
Dantonio was at the game a day after his team beat Penn State to win a share of the school’s first Big Ten football championship since 1990.
Zach Bailey and Kevin Murphy scored 11 points each for Tennessee Tech.
“Today’s game was a little sloppy,” Tennessee Tech coach Mike Sutton said. “I don’t think you saw either team play its best basketball.”
At least the Golden Eagles were able to play this game. Their home opener Tuesday night was canceled when visiting Appalachian State failed to supply officials for the game.
Tennessee Tech will try again to play a home game Wednesday night against SIU-Edwardsville.
Michigan State center Derrick Nix entered the game with 12:00 left in the second half. He rejoined the team after missing the Maui Invitational because of what coach Tom Izzo said were personal reasons. Nix didn’t attempt a shot in five minutes, but he did have three steals.
Izzo said the Spartans could have used Nix in the loss to Connecticut.
“If he wants to really work, he’s going to be a good player,” Izzo said.
The Spartans nearly met Duke in last season’s national title game, but they lost to Butler in the semifinals. Summers said he didn’t even watch the final.
The Blue Devils will be unbeaten heading into this week’s game, which is part of a difficult stretch of nonconference games that will test Michigan State. In addition to the Maui event and the trip to Duke, the Spartans will also take on Syracuse and Texas before Big Ten play.
“Who needs to step up?” Izzo said. “Probably all 11 guys that played any minutes need to step up, to be honest with you.”