Izzo: 29-point win over Nebraska ‘wasn’t very satisfying’
Four Spartans may have finished with double-figure points in No. 3 MSU’s 86-57 win over Nebraska Sunday, but head coach Tom Izzo still wasn’t impressed.
MSU limited the Cornhuskers to 27.4 percent shooting, but allowed 10 baskets from 3-point range and forced a season-low five turnovers. Izzo’s biggest gripe, however, came with his team’s 8 points in transition and 5-for-19 shooting beyond the arc, despite 47.4 percent shooting from the floor.
“It wasn’t very satisfying today to be honest with you,” Izzo said. “That takes nothing away or says anything about Nebraska. I have to look at what we do. Our (fast)break was non-existent, I give them some credit. ...I was totally disappointed with what we did that we needed to do, yet we found a way to score some points.”
Once an 18-point lead for MSU in the first half was whittled to 12 by halftime. Izzo gave credit to Nebraska for refusing to go down without a fight as it continued to fight the rest of the way.
“We were having a lot of mental mistakes and mental breakdowns that we really shouldn’t have been having in a game,” sophomore shooting guard Joshua Langford said. “At one point in the first half we were up by 18 and we should have just stayed on top of that lead and kept pushing."
“That’s just how a lot of good teams just kind of be consistent throughout the whole season. No matter what game it is. We just have to learn from this game and move forward.”
The silver lining, if any, Izzo said, was his team’s rebounding. MSU outboarded Nebraska 49-33.
“I have to remember we’re still young,” he said. “I wanted to see if we could handle success, I wanted to see if we could handle everyone kissing our tails. I didn’t think the grit was there today.”
If there’s any consolation, Nebraska coach Tim Miles said this was the best MSU team he’s played in his six seasons with the Huskers. Even better than the 2015 team that went to the Final Four.
“I’m really impressed with Nick Ward," Miles said. "He has improved and is running better. With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges, it’s hard to double them without giving up too much of the glass or perimeter, so they put you in a conundrum."
Izzo said rather than scoring in bunches from the floor, his team scored 27 points off free throws — all from starters. Forward Nick Ward led all scorers with 22 in 16 minutes, 10 of which came from the line. Three other starters, Jackson, wing Miles Bridges and point guard Cassius Winston each finished with double-digits.
“It didn’t feel like we were up by (a lot) because it felt like every time we would score they would score,” Ward said. “So it didn’t feel like we won by 29, it didn’t feel like it at all.”
Jackson, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, said the team was sluggish offensively. MSU scored 32 of its points in the paint
“Did it feel like a 29-point win? Oh no,” Jackson, the 6-foot-10 former All-American, said. “We know we can play a lot better and our standards aren’t really based on the score as much as it is doing what we do. Like if we won by 15 and did everything right and made some shots we’d be happier than we won by 30 and we gave them open looks.”
Since the team’s loss to No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14, the Spartans have won every game by at least 18 points. But Izzo doesn’t think great teams are determined a wide scoring margin.
“We just didn’t execute, we were dribbling the ball too much,” Izzo said. “We didn’t look very efficient. When you have a good team you want to continue to work on the things it’s going to take to be a great team. And if you give into those things that we’re not doing, that’s not good.”