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Tom Izzo reflects on win at Ohio State, looks forward to next matchup against Minnesota

February 13, 2023
<p>Head Men's Basketball Coach Tom Izzo (left) gives sophomore guard Jaden Akins a quick word of instruction on the sidelines of the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. The Spartans beat the Buckeyes 62-41.</p>

Head Men's Basketball Coach Tom Izzo (left) gives sophomore guard Jaden Akins a quick word of instruction on the sidelines of the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. The Spartans beat the Buckeyes 62-41.

Following the 62-41 win against Ohio State yesterday, Head Men's Basketball Coach Tom Izzo discussed the game and what he thinks the team needs to do in the future to be more successful ahead of the game on Wednesday, where the Spartans will host the Minnesota Gophers at the Breslin Center. 

“Anytime you get a win on the road right now, it’s valuable,” Izzo said. “I thought we did a phenomenal job defensively.”

The Spartans racked up 42 rebounds throughout the game, 30 of them being defensive. They also had four steals and two blocks. Although Izzo was content that the team has won two games in a row, he is “still not totally pleased” with their offense, saying that their shot selection might be costing them too many unearned points.

“I think we’re taking tough shots, sometimes too early in the shot clock,” Izzo said.

Shot selection was a huge issue against Ohio State, as the Spartans shot 22 three-pointers and only made seven of them. Because of this, the Spartans did not take as many shots inside the key as they should have, according to Izzo. 

“We’ve got to do a better job of feeding the post,” Izzo said. “That was open a lot.”

Additionally, Michigan State settled for shots, shooting fadeaways instead of going into the basket. This caused them to draw fewer fouls, a massive problem that Izzo said they need to work on before Minnesota, saying that it is “amazing, kind of what we’ve done not getting to the free-throw line.” Consequently, Izzo said that the team will be working on jumping into guys instead of fading away.

The Spartans only shot one free throw the entire game against Ohio State. 

Another issue that Izzo believes the team needs to work on is the way they set the pace of the game. He said that the team needs to “speed things up a little bit” and push the ball up the court quicker.

“Our running game was average,” Izzo said. “Even when we get to half-court, we’re kind of walking around a little more than I would like to.”

With the return of senior forward Malik Hall, Izzo is hoping to consistently better the offense. According to Izzo, yesterday was a big step for Hall, saying that he is “starting to look like he’s coming around.” Because Hall is back, the Spartans can use him offensively as “both a three-point shooter and as a post-up guy,” two aspects of offense that the Spartans need to improve for the rest of the season. Hall is averaging 8.7 points per game this season so far, with a .400 three-point percentage and a .468 field-goal percentage.

"We've got to do a better job to be honest with you," Izzo said. "We've got to coach it harder and we've got to do a better job."

On the other side of the court, Izzo said that the defense has been doing extremely well and has been consistent with their statistics and gameplay. He also mentioned that freshman forward Jaxon Kohler is starting to become more comfortable playing defense.

Kohler has tallied up 77 rebounds this season, the fifth-most on the team, and 13 blocks, the second-most on the team. Izzo believes that Kohler can become a huge threat in the paint and offensively, but only if he “gets a lot stronger.”

Looking forward to the game against Minnesota, Izzo wants to see players execute better and smarter shots, while also making sure they receive more fouls – specifically Hall, graduate student forward Joey Hauser, sophomore guard Jaden Akins and senior guard Tyson Walker. He hopes to see the team win more consistently and overall beat the “well-coached” Minnesota Gophers with their running game.

“We’ll see if we can get that running game going a little bit more and get a little more in the post and a little more in the free throw line,” Izzo said. “If we do, I think we’ll take another step.”

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