Changes might be on the horizon for the No. 13 MSU men’s basketball team (5-2) after falling to Miami (4-1), 67-59, in Coral Gables, Fla., Wednesday night.
The Hurricanes used a 14-2 run to open the second half to gain their largest lead to that point in the game, 41-33, and never relinquished the lead, staying ahead by at least six points for the game’s final 10 minutes.
MSU was led by junior guard Keith Appling’s 15 points and six rebounds, along with sophomore guard Branden Dawson chipping in 11 points and four rebounds.
After the game, head coach Tom Izzo spoke on the Spartan Sports Network and said the Spartans might not be able to continue playing senior center Derrick Nix and junior center Adreian Payne together at the same time.
“I think you’re seeing a time where the two-big thing is going to change a little bit here,” Izzo said.
“Hopefully we’ve got (Gary) Harris and (Travis) Trice back, although Trice really struggled with his conditioning, but that’s bound to be with almost three weeks out. We’re going to change our lineup up a little bit. We’re just struggling with the two bigs in there.”
Guards Harris and Trice returned from injury in the game and played well off the bench, with Harris scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Trice made three 3-pointers.
A back-and-forth first half saw MSU gain a slight lead, 31-27, after Harris made a buzzer-beating layup to double MSU’s lead.
But before the game, Izzo warned of the Hurricanes’ dynamic backcourt of senior Durand Scott and sophomore Shane Larkin, and the duo didn’t disappoint, combining with senior Trey McKinney Jones for 48 of Miami’s 67 points.
A barrage of 3-pointers from the Hurricanes helped Miami maintain its second half lead, as Miami made 9-of-16 shots from beyond the arc, with McKinney Jones nailing five and Larkin draining three.
Izzo said the 3-point shooting proved to be one of the game’s biggest differences, adding the Spartans need to continue to get more production from Payne and Dawson.
“The 3-point shooting ended up being their biggest strength tonight,” Izzo said, adding MSU must improve.
“We did a good job on the offensive boards.”