Thursday, December 2, 2021

Spartans earn first Big Ten victory

January 17, 2002
Junior forward Aloysius Anagonye goes up for a shot over Purdue center Joe Allison in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against the Boilermakers at the Breslin Center. MSU triumphed over Purdue 65-56. —

For Kelvin Torbert and the MSU men’s basketball team, Wednesday night was a coming out party.

Not only did the Spartans’ first Big Ten win register at 65-56 over Purdue (9-10 overall, 1-4 Big Ten), but it brought the emergence of the freshman guard.

Last Saturday, Torbert was five-tenths of a second away from the Spartans’ first Big Ten tally - he continued Wednesday where he left off. In 29 inspired minutes, he scored a career-high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.

It was an evening the Flint native said not only MSU fans have been expecting from one of the nation’s top-five high school players last year.

“I was always waiting for a break-out game,” Torbert said.

MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo said Wednesday’s performance was a surprise after challenging the 6-foot-4 guard in practice earlier this week.

“K.T.’s a funny kid to read because he’s quiet,” he said. “I think he grew up tonight. He ran a little harder. When he got down (on offense) he looked more like the kid I recruited.”

Attribute Torbert’s increased level of play to Izzo’s mentor, Jud Heathcote. Before the game, the former coach suggested that Torbert be placed in the post a little more, Izzo said.

“I should probably give some to Jud,” Izzo said. “He talked to me about posting him a little bit more and I thought all of those things really helped him and helped us.”

By posting, Torbert was able to utilize his bigger body against Purdue’s smaller guards to spin and elevate against defenders.

“Torbert, everyone has liked him since he was an eighth-grader,” Purdue head coach Gene Keady said. “What’s not to like about him.”

But it wasn’t only an exposed post-up game that earned a Spartan victory. MSU sophomore guard Marcus Taylor said the locker room atmosphere separated this game from any in Big Ten play so far.

“We came out with a lot of intensity,” Taylor said. “The locker room was a lot more different than the other losses.”

But Izzo said Wednesday’s victory is a far cry from where the Spartans (10-7 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) expect to be at the end of Big Ten play.

MSU continues Big Ten play Saturday at Penn State.


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