Spartans anything but humbled after upset loss to Buckeyes
COLUMBUS — The top-ranked team in the country got blown out on Sunday to an unranked opponent on the road but MSU coach Tom Izzo insists the loss was anything but humbling.
A blip? Perhaps. But the Hall of Fame coach thought his team took away little from the 80-64 blowout on Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
“We learned our lessons last year,” Izzo said. “We got our butts kicked last year to learn. … don’t go searching now. We’re 15-2 and we had great practices. There’s no thinking we’re better than we are. There’s none of that. We played against a team who played awfully well.”
The loss marked MSU’s first in a road game this season. The Spartans staved off Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey on Dec. 5, 62-52, for their only other contest on the road. But according to Izzo, that wasn’t the same as the environment Columbus, where 17,599 fans created a hostile environment for foes.
“Well it’s a good excuse, I mean we haven’t," Izzo said. "I say that honestly. That’s the difference with having a bunch of young guys. I think a lot of teams have a bunch of young guys around the country.”
One game after MSU assisted on 30 of its 32 baskets in its 91-61 win against Maryland on Jan. 4, the Spartans only dished out 13 assists Sunday night.
“In a road environment it’s going to be you vs. the world,” forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said. “You got to be ready for runs. You got to be ready to swim back and you can’t learn to get a run too out of control. You got to learn how to keep your composure and if they go up by seven or eight points like they did, we have to learn how to respond quickly and efficiently without taking a bad shot.”
A hostile work environment, however, is something guard Miles Bridges said the team will have to learn to play through.
“That’s just one of those times we had to respond and we didn’t respond,” Bridges said. “That showed the maturity of our team. We have to learn how to respond, especially on the road and that’s something we’re going to figure out.”
Though the Spartans dropped to No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Poll, point guard Cassius Winston said they need to use the loss as motivation as conference play continues to unravel.
“It’s a loss in January, it’s a loss that’s not taking us out for the season,” Winston said. “Any loss that happens we just learn from it and build from it. The next team, they’re going to have to learn with the benefits from learning from this mistake.”
MSU won’t be on the road again until on Jan. 22, when it goes to Champaign to play Illinois. Until then, Jackson said they’ll build upon it.
“Obviously we’re going to bounce back,” Jackson said. “We’re going to handle it the way it the way we handled Duke. Just channel it the right way and learn from it. You learn from losses learn from wins, so this is just adding a lot more firepower to the mix.”