Michigan State’s first Big Ten Conference win of the season in four attempts did not satisfy head coach Tom Izzo. He allowed everyone who was connected to the show to breathe a sigh of relief.
The Spartans, ranked 23rd, defeated Nebraska 84-77 on Saturday after losing their first three Big Ten games for the first time since 2001-02. They will try to bring that momentum to their home game against No. 15 Rutgers on Tuesday.
The Spartans (7-3, 1-3) held the lead against the Cornhuskers from the middle of the first half, but had trouble closing the game. They needed a setback from Josh Langford and some last minute free throws to secure the victory.
” That was a good victory, but it is not good enough,” Izzo said. “When we have a 17-point lead, you have to learn to step on them. We played well in the stages, so now we’re starting to play some good stages, but we need to do it more consistently. We won our first game, and we’re 1-0 in 2021. This is how I’m going to have to look at it for now. “
Aaron Henry’s performance stood out. He scored a career-high 27 points after scoring a combined 34 points on 39.4 percent shooting in Michigan State’s first three conference games.
” I thought it was the best game of his life here,” Izzo said.
Henry scored 10 of his 16 field goal attempts against Nebraska, including a trio of 3s. He made a total of four triples in the team’s first nine games.
” I was just a small piece of the puzzle,” Henry said. ” I may have scored more than other nights and played one of my best nights, but I’m a team guy. I’m all for that and the focus (on Saturday) was just to get a win; anything we can do to get A win. That’s whoever comes to Michigan State. “
Izzo tweaked his lineup, giving first-year point guard AJ Hoggard the first start of his career. Hoggard only took three shots, but he dished out five assists and made only one loss in 24 minutes.
“AJ played pretty well in his first start, but he has to play defense too,” Izzo said. ” We are working on that.”
Rutgers (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) is coming off an agonizing 77-75 loss to Iowa on Saturday. The Hawkeyes made three free throws in the final 17 seconds, sandwiching a Scarlet Knights fumble from Myles Johnson with five seconds remaining.
” We played really hard, we had chances, they were just a better possession,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said.
The Scarlet Knights were outscored 18-4 at the free throw line and only hit 33 percent (4 of 12) of their free throws.
” What we got (from Saturday) is that we have to take free throws,” Rutgers guard Ron Harper Jr. said. “You’re not going to win many basketball games like that. So everyone in the locker room needs to keep getting better. “.
Harper scored 13 points against Iowa, nine below his season average. He scored nine points in the only meeting with the Spartans last season, a 77-65 Michigan State win.
The schools are scheduled to meet for the second time this season in Piscataway, NJ, on January 28.
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.