Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Breaking down MSU's NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA

March 19, 2021
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - MARCH 18: Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Credit: Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - MARCH 18: Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Credit: Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images) —
Photo by Courtesy Photo | The State News

It's shocking, definitely, knowing that Michigan State men's basketball is done for the 2020-21 season after a very short postseason run, and there is another eight or nine months until they hit the court again.

The Spartans (15-13) fell to the Bruins of UCLA (18-9) in a brutal overtime game during the First Four.

The Spartans were leading by as much as 14 points going into halftime, so what happened?

Same issues plague Spartans

Postgame, Head Coach Tom Izzo made note that he was disappointed not only in the loss itself, but also in the way they lost.

"We had the game won, and we made some of the same mistakes we've made two or three times this year in critical situations," he said.

Izzo thought the team did incredibly well offensively, calling it some of the best of the season, but their defense was incredibly poor.

The Spartans were shooting at 48% from the field, 33% from 3-point land and 89% from the line. They were led by Aaron Henry, with 16 points; Joshua Langford, with 12 points; and Malik Hall with 10 points.

"We played Aaron so much, he was run down," Izzo said. "Josh was hurt a little bit at halftime, but we just kind of grinded both those guys and didn't have enough legs."

Joey Hauser and Rocket Watts combined for 18 more points and Julius Marble II, Marcus Bingham Jr. and Gabe Brown added another 22.

The Spartans had the lead until the last 30 seconds, but Henry missed a shot to win it at the buzzer and it was 77-77 heading into OT.

The Spartans won the overtime jump ball, but it was quickly given back to the Bruins. Johnny Juzang, Cody Riley and Jaylen Clark worked together to push UCLA out on top, and the Spartans found themselves in another early tournament defeat.

The Spartans collected a total of 33 rebounds, 16 assists, six blocks, two steals, 19 fouls and 12 turnovers.

Of their 80 total points, 10 were off turnovers, 14 were off second chance shots, 25 came from the bench, 30 were in the paint and six were off fast breaks.

They spent 36:56 of the 45 minutes played in the lead, only to fall flat on their faces. Henry, Langford and Marble were lucky not to be out of the game after finding themselves on the edge of foul trouble.

"We didn't deserve to win at the end, the way we handled that situation," Izzo said. "... We've said all along, our margin for error is very slim, and yet I say that when, boy, that first half and part of that second half, we moved the ball so well. We really played really good basketball. ... You don't have many margins for error when you're a good basketball team, which we are."

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