MSU basketball bands together, remains unbeaten through tough stretch
It started with a thrilling 79-73 victory over Kansas in the Champions Classic on Nov. 17 in Chicago.
And on Saturday, the No. 1 MSU basketball team (11-0) completed one of the toughest stretches of non conference schedules in the country, with a 58-52 victory over the Florida Gators.
"Right now, they're learning how to deal with so many things," Izzo said of playing through a tough schedule, among other things, such as the team's No. 1 ranking. "We've played an enormous amount of games in a short period of time. We've traveled everywhere, as far as distance. ... We're learning to adjust but we've just beaten four or five really, really good teams."
Saturday's performance wasn't pretty for MSU. The Spartans shot just 36.8 percent from the field and turned the ball over 12 times, two things which Izzo said likely can be attributed to the team's fatigue at this point in the season, especially for star senior guard Denzel Valentine, who Izzo feels let his fatigue affect other parts of his game Saturday.
"I think they were (tired)," Izzo said. "I think it was a good learning thing for (Denzel Valentine). I mean, you can be tired, but you can't let that affect everything. I just thought he wasn't himself."
Still, MSU found a way to win the game and advance to 11-0. For MSU sophomore forward Marvin Clark Jr., he spoke of two areas which has allowed the Spartans to get off to such a start — their toughness, but also the their chemistry.
"I think where that comes deep down from is our camaraderie," Clark said. "You know, our love for each other. This is a very close-knit group like we were last year, but this year it's even closer. But I just think that just speaks to how much we love each other, how much we love this program and how much we love coach. And also, the 2000 guys were back. There was no way we were going to let them down and take an 'L' tonight so I think that shows a lot that we're tough and we'll dig down and fight anybody to get a win."
After completing such a tough stretch of games, MSU won't play again until Northeastern on Dec. 19. It's a much-needed rest for the Spartans, especially for Valentine.
"It's a lot that's been going on," Valentine said. "We've been having game, game, game, game and not a lot of rest it seems like with school and finals and everything. You know, it's been a rough schedule but this is finals week. We got to take finals and we don't play until next Saturday so it's going to be a good week to get some rest and practice and get back to the drawing board."