MSU wins ugly against Columbia, 62-53
MSU out-rebounded, make no 3-pointers in win
Despite spending much of the game on upset alert, the No. 2 MSU men’s basketball team squeaked past Columbia with a 62-53 win Friday night at Breslin Center.
In the Spartans’ (3-0 overall) first of four Coaches vs. Cancer Classic games, the Lions (1-2) gave MSU the fight of its life. Columbia out-rebounded the Spartans as well as knocked down eight 3-pointers compared to MSU’s zero.
“I’m very disappointed in it. You go into a game when you got out-rebounded and you get out-rebounded again,” Izzo said. “We just gotta hope now Kansas blows somebody out, so (the voters) move them ahead of us because we proved tonight we’re not ready to handle any kind of success, and that disappoints me.”
After the Spartans beat No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday in the Champions Classic, MSU became the front-runner to take over the top spot in the polls next week.
The Spartans got off to a quick 9-0 run against the Lions, but following a media timeout five minutes into the game, Columbia came back to claim its first lead of the game off of guard Maudo Lo’s 3-pointer.
After only giving the ball away seven times against Kentucky, the Spartans turned the ball over eight times in the first half alone.
MSU protected the ball better in the second half and only gave up the ball three times.
The Lions out-rebounded MSU, 31-24, including seven offensive board compared to MSU’s five.
“It’s good that we still found a way to win the game and we won it, but we’re too good of a team to have games like this,” senior center Adreian Payne said. “Rebounding is effort related and we’re not playing tough right now, and that’s one of the staples of Michigan State basketball and we gotta find a way to get it back.”
The Spartans opened up the second half just as flat as they were in the first half. Columbia was led by Lo’s hot shooting from behind the arc. Lo hit four 3-pointers. MSU didn’t make any 3-pointers on seven attempts.
The Spartans finally retook the lead and held onto it for good with 7:30 left on the clock.
Sophomore guard Gary Harris hit a running layup and drew the foul and hit his and-one free throw to give MSU the 49-46 lead.
Payne was one of the few bright spots for MSU throughout the entire game. He carried the team offensively and defensively, and finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Payne and senior guard Keith Appling were key in rejuvenating the crowd during key stretches by connecting on three alley-oops.
Izzo said he was proud of the way Appling and Payne played, but was disappointed with the bigs and guards.
“Our big guys, we still got some work to do,” Izzo said. “Our perimeter guys just looked like they were satisfied with winning a game, one game, and that’s disappointing.”
MSU’s defensive play improved slightly down the stretch and forced the Lions into five turnovers in the final five minutes.
With three minutes left in the game, Columbia fell victim to the Izzone, when the student section fooled the Lions into back-to-back shot clock violations.
Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said MSU’s student section had an absolute impact down the stretch, but knew it was going to be a tough environment.
“Their the best coached fans I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “They duped us on the backwards count … It was loud, and it was hard to simulate that.”
Izzo echoed Smith and said Friday’s game was one of the wins that can be credited to the Izzone. He said The Izzone had more energy than his players on the floor.
“We were coming off of ball screens at quarter speed,” Izzo said. “My mother’s 88 and she could’ve covered some of our guys.”
For Columbia, it would’ve been the first time the Lions would’ve beaten a Big Ten team since 1970-71.
MSU will try and hold on to its potential No. 1 ranking when they next play at 7 p.m. Sunday against Portland at Breslin Center.
“I’m telling you flat out, we haven’t proven enough to be considered a great team,” Izzo said. “We’re dog gone good team with a long, long way to go.”