Michigan State head men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo celebrated his 69th birthday in style with his 700th win over one of his biggest rivals at home.
Just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, Izzo took in his milestone surrounded by family, players, both past and present and a still-packed student section holding signs commemorating the moment.
The Spartans took down the Michigan Wolverines 81-62 in the Breslin Center Tuesday night for a late-night matchup in front of a full house and MSU men’s basketball greats like Mateen Cleaves and Steve Smith.
With the rivalry victory, Tom Izzo became the 38th Division I head coach to reach 700 wins, but after the game, the Hall of Fame head coach said that he strives for more.
“I should be more excited,” Izzo said. “But I'm not because I have bigger goals than to win a game, even against your rival, but it was something we had to do.”
Izzo’s milestone was made even sweeter having accomplished 700 wins just as a Spartan. Izzo is just the 11th coach in the history of Division I college basketball to hit 700 wins at one school and the first coach in Big Ten history to accomplish the feat.
The Spartan’s leader has been guiding the Michigan State men’s basketball team through 29 seasons and now sits at 700-288 overall.
“I mean, 700 wins is pretty impressive even to me,” Izzo said. “700 wins at the same school, that means a lot to me. That's probably what means the most to me ... We — the players, the assistant coaches — we've won all the parts right here at Michigan State, and I'm really, really honored and proud and feel good.”
Tom Izzo’s career has been a successful one admired by many, and even rival Michigan head coach Juwan Howard could not understate Izzo’s accomplishment following the matchup.
“He is a Hall of Fame coach,” Howard said. “He's an example of what a lot of us coaches are striving to become and the success he's had in college basketball … I really admire coach in a lot of ways. Yes, it's a rivalry. It's always gonna be a rivalry. But, at the same time, you know, you just got to give respect when respect is due with (Izzo) being able to reach that many wins. You know, it's an example of where I'm trying to get.”
Despite the amazing accomplishment in front of a roaring home crowd, the game was a struggle in the first half for MSU. The Spartans went into the locker room down 35-33, but completely turned the game around in the second half, outscoring the Wolverines 48-27 in the second half.
It is no secret that Michigan State has really struggled at different points this season, but after the game both to the crowd and in a post-game press conference, Izzo shared the same sentiment about the program going forward.
“We're not dead yet,” Izzo said. “We got some more wins, we got some more years to go, and we keep fighting the fight.”