1. MSU Survives Against the Gophers, But He Won’t Make It Out
East Lansing – If you had AJ Hogard dish to Joy Hauser for the winning layup on the buzzer on your bingo card on Wednesday night, well, bingo.
Michigan State might look like a team you might see competing for the Big Ten Championship and playing Sweet 16. And then you look at the Spartans for a stretch and wonder if they’re any better than Minnesota.
The game was much later in Wednesday night’s 71-69 escape against the Gophers team.
This was the first game after Champions Classic where I felt MSU’s opponent was played with more purpose and focus. Minnesota certainly learned from its last loss to the Spartans in December. It created and created good looks.
You could say that when the Spartans took a 30-21 lead late in the first half, it was just 34-31 at the break after a muddy and uninspired final a few minutes before the break.
Then it got weird too. Tyson Walker called out for the game at 10:43 and did not return, after a turnover but after a good game still appeared disheartened and disappointed. Marcus Bingham Jr. didn’t play the final 10:14. An MSU team isn’t a whole lot better than Minnesota without Walker and Bingham.
In this respect, the Spartans are right to feel good about being alive. He took it out. Just enough plays made, just enough rebounds, one more than a Minnesota team not known for rebounding.
MSU seemed a little tired. And like he didn’t have the answers. It certainly wasn’t defensive. The Gophers played like an NCAA Tournament team. Credit to them. But the MSU team we saw on Wednesday is in trouble in Wisconsin and Illinois.
But for now 5-0 is 5-0. No one is better in the Big Ten. for now.
2. Freshman Thoughts – Minnesota Edition, Part II
It is becoming clear that Max Christie has got a slit with his shot. This continued on Wednesday night, when he hit 7 of 12 shots, including 2 of 3 for 16 points (with five rebounds and four assists). Never hesitated to shoot. Now the shots are falling. His first triple Wednesday is an example of the devastating shooter he can be – a pull-up 3 from the right, a defender thinks he had the hand to block the shot.
Later, Christie’s baseline pull-up jumper at the start of the second half was a crucial bucket for the Spartans at a shaky time. It was time for his pull-up bucket in the street to give MSU a 61-55 lead when things were still tight and it was getting late. And again with your jumper moving a screen to put the MSU ahead of 69-64 as of the 2 minute mark.
I wrote back when Christie played her first big game of the season at Butler that I had no idea what it would feel like to shoot Christie too much, but we are far from it. we are still. Part of his effectiveness is that he doesn’t hunt shots and force the offense. Still, the more he shoots, the better for MSU. Despite a nervous first half at Northwestern in his homecoming game, he has now scored 23 of 37 from the floor in his last four games, including 11-for-17 from long range. It was only a matter of time.
On Wednesday they had a few turnovers that looked like they were out of fatigue – and a turnover at the last minute that looked like indecision or nerves. He is still a freshman. A lot is being asked of him, including his emerging aggressive game.
Jaden Akins is well thinking about his role this season. It is possible that he will have a one or two digit scoring game over the next few months, but those days are mostly in the coming season. He was good in his role on Wednesday night. I think the Spartans can trust that he’s going to make a difference in certain ways, both on the glass and with his defense.
With MSU leading 27–19, his steal in the first half had the chance to be one of the plays of the game when, running down the court, he dropped a no-look pass to Gabe Brown behind the arch. . Brown missed a 3 that would have put the Spartans in front and brought the crowd to a different decibel. But that doesn’t change Akins’ drama.
Akins’ drive and dish for a 3-pointer for Tyson Walker and a 51-45 lead with 13 minutes to spare was one of the big plays. Walker was starting to find his rhythm. He stuck on the drive, giving it to Akins, who, not hesitating, went into the teeth of the defense, who had left Walker alone at the 3-point line on the opposite wing. Akins looked like the point guard that he might one day be in that play. Only an aid, but a massively important one.
3. MSU could use another bounce from Marcus Bingham
For a while, every big night at Marcus Bingham was either better than the last or remarkable no matter what he was up against. He was a force at times. He is still a presence. Still making impact. Still doing good stuff. But the Spartans could use another bounce from Bingham, another night when their big man turns every shot into the paint, where he is a problem for the opponent.
Bingham seems to have hit a slight plateau. On Wednesday he had six points on 3-of-5 shooting, four blocked shots and a couple rebounds in 17 minutes. He has so much more in it than he showed on Wednesday. We’ve seen it. The question is, can he go back there and stay there?
Bingham did not play the final 10:14 on Wednesday. I don’t know what’s in it other than not giving enough on the court. But MSU will go nowhere this season, with Bingham out of the final quarter of the game.
Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.