With his team up 20 midway through the second half, Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo committed a technical. He was clearly displeased throughout the contest, and he had reason to be, as MSU forfeited its 16-2 start in a first half that became as close as 18-15. The Spartans would regain form in the second half, defeating Northwestern, 79-50.
But by the time he got the technical, the Spartans were running away with it, despite a lack of intensity in their play and in the building. By the time freshman forward Julius Marble finished a dunk and received a technical himself for hanging on the rim, MSU was slapping the floor, splashing threes and feeding of the revived Breslin Center crowd that hadn't been as loud since the time Marble was on the favorable side of a technical.
“I guess the officials probably thought the team needed a wakeup call,” Izzo joked, according to a release from the university's athletics department. “I get to do something. Get mad at somebody and get a technical and... shazam, the place goes crazy.”
Right before Marble’s technical, sophomore forward Aaron Henry broke his 0-for-7 shooting drought with a three. In the possessions following the technical, sophomore guard Foster Loyer made his third, and sophomore forward Gabe Brown made his first.
Although they regained and even surpassed the lead they forfeited in the first half, Izzo pointed to a lack of consistency as the biggest concern of the night. But he did give compliment to sophomore guard Foster Loyer’s performance, and did the same for one of the medley of power forwards.
“I'd still say other than Marcus (Bingham Jr.), we’re still struggling at that four,” Izzo said, after praising the sophomore’s seven-point, seven rebound performance.
Among the others at the position, freshman forward Malik Hall made an impact early, scoring six of MSU’s first nine points in his second career start.
And, of course, Hall’s “clone,” freshman forward Julius Marble, threw down a dunk and hung on the rim as he looked to avoid a collision.
While Izzo acknowledged Marble’s right to do so postgame, anyone sitting in the Breslin Center could’ve anticipated the lecture he would give the freshman.
“I was just trying to get him laughing because I knew coach was going to say something to him about the tech,” Bingham Jr. said. “I was trying to keep him going and get him pumped up without trying to block out everything that happened. It wasn't his fault. We were all turned up, and I was happy for him.”
As Bingham mentioned, the Breslin gallery came alive for the second time — the first time being Izzo’s technical. So did Bingham, as he attempted to celebrate with Marble, who passively approached the bench in anticipation.
After Izzo praised Bingham Jr. early this week for producting “value in the things you don’t see,” his contribution here was invaluable. For a team that’s had its struggles with camaraderie amid tragedy, moments like these between a rising sophomore and a budding freshman can bring these groups together.
“Right now I feel like we are connected team,” Brown said. “Everything's starting to fall together. Just like last year, it took some time because there's players like myself, Marcus, Aaron, Rocket, like there's new players out there. ... So, right now I feel like we're getting to where we were last year, just being connected."