Michigan State basketball

© JESSICA GALLAGHER/ Staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball: 3 quick thoughts from tight win over Villanova

Michigan State basketball looked like it was going to run away with a win over Villanova, but the Wildcats stormed back.

It can just never be easy. Michigan State basketball fans know all too well what it’s like to struggle to close out big wins.

Villanova was just the latest case of a team that looked dead in the water but hung around long enough to make the Spartans sweat in the final minutes.

After increasing the lead to 16 late in the second half, Michigan State took its foot off the gas and Villanova stormed back to make things very interesting late. An errant inbounds pass by Joey Hauser with under a minute left led to a 3-pointer by Villanova to cut the lead to one.

This is something that Tom Izzo will make sure doesn’t happen again moving forward. But if you told me that Michigan State would be 3-1 after playing Gonzaga, Kentucky, and Villanova, I would have called you insane. That’s a big win to start the year. Villanova is a pesky team.

Here are some quick thoughts from this win.

1. Tyson Walker can be that go-to scorer

When Michigan State needed a bucket down the stretch, where did it turn? Tyson Walker.

We talked about it before the game, Walker is that X-factor and he needs to be that bucket-getter for the Spartans this year. He was just that on Friday night.

Walker didn’t shy away from the big moment or the big shot, finishing with a team-high 22 points to go along with five assists on 9-of-14 shooting. If he can be that go-to scorer for MSU this year, the Spartans will be in good shape.

2. Mady Sissoko looked gassed 

Mady Sissoko played great against two All-American over the past seven days, but he really struggled on Friday night against Eric Dixon. He looked flat-out gassed.

It’s not surprising that he looked tired because he’s not used to playing big minutes like this at the collegiate level and conditioning will only improve, but he has to be better. He finished with just one points, three rebounds, and had two fouls. Dixon was able to score 24 points with nine boards as Sissoko got lost defending him a few times at the perimeter as an inside-out big.

3. This team has to find a way to finish

I feel like I say this every year, but Michigan State looked like a really good team for about 32 minutes and then fell asleep in the final eight minutes. A 16-point lead melted down to one with just seconds left and Villanova had a shot to win the game at the buzzer but missed.

AJ Hoggard has to be smarter with the ball at the end of the game (he had a bad turnover that led to an and-one) and Joey Hauser needs to take a timeout instead of lobbing an inbounds pass into two defenders. There were some questionable decisions down the stretch and it’s up to the leaders to calm everyone down, but they were making those crucial mistakes.

Michigan State looked like a top-10 team for the first 32 minutes and an unranked team in the final eight.

Time to put together a complete game.

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