Spartans struggle defending the three, focused on one game at a time moving forward
There’s been a trend the last three games for the Spartans.
After an 84-73 defeat at the hands of Purdue, MSU now stands at 4-4 in conference play and 12-9 overall on the season. In the midst of three consecutive losses, defending shots from 3-point territory
In each of the last three games, MSU has allowed opponents to score double-digit 3-point baskets — 10 against Ohio State University, 11 against Indiana and 11 more against the Boilermakers Tuesday night.
A number of deep shots from opposing shooters in MSU’s most recent stretch were contested but still found their way in the basket, but there were also plenty of wide-open shots. When asked what the team could do better at guarding the deep threat down the stretch, freshman forward Miles Bridges offered his opinion.
“Indiana is a great shooting team, and they got really hot at home,” Bridges said. “(Ohio State), that’s on us, we have to play better defense. But that’s what we have to work on, getting high-hand, closing out, it’s not easy guarding the best players every game but if we can do that we can win games.”
Bridges served as one of the lone bright spots in the team’s loss to the Boilermakers, finishing the game with a career-high 33 points on 12-for-17 shooting with five shots finding the net from behind the arc. Bridges’ performance set an MSU school record for most points
“(Purdue) capitalized on the mistakes which we didn’t,” head coach Tom Izzo said after the game. “I thought there were good enough players on our team that played hard enough, and I thought there were a couple of players on our team that played hard enough but not smart enough or good enough. Can’t do that against a good team and there’s no question Purdue is one of the better teams.”
Prior to MSU’s losing streak, the Spartans held opposing shots from 3-point range to just 28 percent, a cumulative rate that has jumped up to 35.8 percent in the last three contests. In Tuesday’s loss to Purdue, all five in the Boilermakers’ starting lineup scored double digits, with each guard hitting two triples.
“They had 11 threes,” fifth-year senior guard Eron Harris said. “We just have to find a way, find a balance from the inside, outside, take away what’s more important. But like I said we didn’t do enough to get the win and we have to bounce back.”
After a 21-point performance against Indiana, Harris was held to nine points and two rebounds on 3-for-7 shooting against Purdue. Harris was one of the guards to miss assignments when defending the triple.
Harris said the team looks at March Madness talk as white noise — the focus is always the next opponent and taking things one day at a time. Aiming to find themselves back above .500, the Spartans will host arch-rival University of Michigan on Sunday.
“We have to win one game at a time. If we take care of that, the tourney is going to take care of itself. We can’t start talking about the tourney right now," Harris said. "We’re doing that so much and that’s our goal, but we have to win the game that’s right in front of us. … We’re not out."
Should MSU find its stride in the coming games, after U-M on Sunday the Spartans will play Nebraska,
“We have to find a way, and pretty soon it’s going to be win or go home,” Harris said. “By the time that time