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Michigan State Basketball: The great, good, bad, and ugly from Purdue loss

There was a lot of good from a painful loss.

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Michigan State basketball
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball drops its second in a row at the hands of Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer and No. 3 Purdue.

In what would end up being an extremely frustrating loss for the green and white, Michigan State basketball drops to 12-6 on the season following the Purdue game.

What makes MSU’s loss more difficult to swallow is they essentially loss to just Fletcher Loyer and Zach Edey. Loyer and Edey made up 49 of the Boilermakers’ 64 total points. Whether that says more about Purdue’s offense or Michigan State’s defense, the Spartans had no answer for the Boilermaker pair.

After going down early, the Spartans had their own dynamic duo to pull them back into the contest. Tyson Walker was absolutely unconscious from all areas on the court. Finishing with a team and new career high 30 points, Walker almost willed MSU to a win himself. Unfortunately, his heroics were not enough as MSU came just a point short of the upset, losing 64-63.

Despite the loss, Michigan State put up a heck of a fight.

Here are the great, good, bad, and ugly from a tough, albeit promising, loss to Purdue.

Great: Tyson Walker

If you were able to watch even a second of the second half, you could tell that Tyson Walker absolutely took over against the Boilermakers. One year after hitting the game winner against Purdue at the Breslin, Walker channeled his former self and made plays when needed.

Having a team high 23 shot attempts, Tyson converted on over 50 percent, finishing 12-for-23 from the field. Scoring 30 points should not be overlooked, but what is just as important is how and when Walker hit his shots. When it seemed as though no one, outside Hoggard, was able to score, Tyson demanded the rock and nail jumper after jumper. Walker was not going to be denied down the stretch, putting on a performance the likes of which have not been seen since Cassius Winston donned the green and white years ago.

Electrifying the Izzone, giving the best performance we have seen this season thus far, and single-handedly standing tall against the No. 3 team in the country, Walker was absolutely spectacular.

Good: Poise when trailing

Following an even first few minutes, Purdue soon jumped out to a substantial lead at the Breslin. Edey was able to get whatever he wanted in the first 10 minutes, and the Spartans found themselves down 13 in the first half.

Whether it was Tom Izzo, the leaders on the team, or possibly the energy from the Izzone, MSU did not surrender. Thanks to above average shooting, the Spartans went on a 14-3 scoring run to end the half. Continuing their charge in the first minutes of the second half, Michigan State eventually went up by five just three minutes into the second half, and then by four with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

Even with being absolutely dominated in the paint, and some questionable calls from the officials, the Spartans continued to fight until the very end. Keeping poise and remaining calm down even when facing a double digit deficit against the first place team in the Big Ten is a feat in itself. MSU can hold its head high for not giving up.

Bad: Guard play outside of Walker and Hoggard

If it weren’t for A.J. Hoggard and Walker, the Spartan guards would have finished with just five points. While all five of those points did come from starter Jaden Akins, Michigan State basketball needs more production from the sophomore X-factor.

Only scoring in double digits once out of his last five games, Akins is too offensively gifted to have just five points per game. Shooting 40 percent from three on the year, attempting just one 3-pointer is unacceptable. Increasing his shot attempts and decreasing his out of control fast break layups will be vital for the Farmington native going forward.

Both guards off the bench, Pierre Brooks and Tre Holloman were held scoreless on Monday. While Holloman being held scoreless is not much of a surprise, Brooks has shown this season that he is more than capable to add some offense off the bench. Brooks is now scoreless in his last four games, all being Big Ten opponents.

After being highly regarded as the expected breakout player this season, Brooks has been nothing but disappointing in conference play, both offensively and defensively. If he is going to play to his potential, Pierre will need to start by adding some sort of spark off the bench.

Ugly: Post play

Rather than singling out one player, offensively or defensively, that played poorly down low against Purdue, this is all encompassing. The lack of any sort of success in the lane falls on MSU’s players, coaches, and, to some extent, Big Ten officiating.

The most apparent, however, is the lack of production from Michigan State’s centers. Going against possibly the best player in the country in the 7-foot-4 Edey is obviously difficult. Regardless, Mady Sissoko added another zero-point outing, while both freshmen, Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler, each contributed two. This season has been a train wreck at the five, with no signs of improving.

Spartan coaches put together a terrible game plan as Edey was constantly able to catch the ball deep on the block. It is obvious that Purdue is offensively anemic outside Edey and Loyer, yet the Spartans did not force the other Boilermakers to beat them.

Double teaming Edey the moment he touched the ball and forcing Purdue’s wings to beat you from a distance would have been a good start. In addition to the lack of game plan, Monday’s loss was a prime example why adding a starting-caliber center from the transfer portal was a necessity this past offseason. Trusting a below average Sissoko and two true freshmen to defend and then score against the best player in the country is a recipe for failure. The transfer portal seems to have worked with Tyson Walker, why it was not utilized again was a mistake by the Michigan State basketball staff.

Officiating should not, and will not, define this team. Calls from the officials are a part of this game and must be accounted for. With that being said, it is next to impossible for Zach Edey to have been called for zero fouls on Monday. Edey is committing less than 1.5 fouls per game. Standing at 7-4, this is quite literally impossible. The Spartan big men didn’t help themselves, but it’s difficult to matchup against centers who do not get called for fouls.

Writer and contributor for Spartan Shadows. Tyler Dutton, a graduate of Michigan State, is a college and professional basketball specialist with over four years of experience writing on both the Spartans and Pistons.

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