Loss to No. 10 Arizona is still progress for MSU
There is a paradox in sports.
When everything looks evergreen, all of a sudden there is demolition. This paradox stole the minds of football fans when MSU football crashed — from a College Football Playoff team — to second to last in the Big Ten.
As leaves change colors and blanket streets and sidewalks, there is another potential paradox Spartan fans are hoping to dismiss. Although MSU men’s basketball dropped its first game to No. 10 Arizona, the Spartans provided a future glimmer of hope for East Lansing — that at least this year there will be quality, entertaining basketball.
A late 3-point field goal by proposed hero guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. was suddenly stolen away by Arizona’s Kadeem Allen. While Spartan fans celebrated the 18.8 percent three-point shooter from a year ago to tie the game with seven seconds to play, Allen, without hesitation, blew by the Spartan defense scoring on a layup with 1.9 seconds to go, swiping the potential overtime opportunity to a 65-63 Wildcat victory.
While this was heartbreaking to Spartan fans, throughout the contest, forward Miles Bridges filled up the entertainment stat sheet with his high-flying capabilities. Although this was expected from Bridges, with the crumble of MSU football, Spartan fans couldn’t take anything for granted.
“As far as Miles (Bridges), I hate to put that kind of pressure on him, but he’s got shoulders two
Bridges poured in a game-high 21 points, which included high-flying alley oop dunks and contorting layups. Although his 3-point range looked questionable, the Spartans will look to guard Matt McQuaid and guard Eron Harris to provide long-range artillery throughout the season, Izzo said.
“This year I feel more confident,” McQuaid said. “Especially with my shot. I really worked on my footwork this summer and getting that down, as well as getting a quicker release, and I think that has really helped me.”
While the first month of the season contains high-profile games against No. 2 Kentucky and No. 1 Duke, Izzo said the leadership of Nairn will play a pivotal role.
“Just looking out for the young guys, taking them under our wings, and just being the best teammates possible we can be to them,” Nairn said. “It’s a tradition here, that’s what it is all about here. The same thing that happened
This loss in the final few seconds once saw a 17-2 lead by the Spartans. A stagnant offense filled with turnovers and poor quality shots allowed the Wildcats to reassert themselves and swing the game in their favor by halftime. Despite the loss, Izzo said this
“That thing I talked about last year, about the culture and the guys, it hasn’t dropped,” Izzo said. “That part hasn’t dropped off an inch. A little bit of depth has. A little bit of experience has dropped off. But the other things haven’t dropped off. We’re going to be able to make this into a very, very good basketball team.”
While football had a cliff dive, men’s basketball will hope to get back up from a first round March Madness knockout — just a year ago. So far, the future looks hopeful.