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Michigan State Basketball: The great, good, bad, and ugly from Villanova win

MSU nearly choked away a game against Villanova.



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

When it comes to 3-point shooting, when it rains, it pours. And it was an absolute hurricane for Michigan State basketball against Villanova.

Michigan State basketball came out of the gate absolutely on fire, opening up a 34-24 first-half lead. It quickly became apparent that MSU was not playing around and called game shortly into the second half, finishing, as a team, shooting an incredible 52 percent from three.

After the outstanding upset against Kentucky earlier in the week, this game would tell a lot about this team. Will they have an upset hangover? Was the upset a fluke? Are the Spartans truly that good? Going off this performance, that answer has to be a yes.

Now, that’s not to say Villanova didn’t make it close and uncomfortable late. If it weren’t for Tyson Walkers heroic performance down the stretch, I don’t know if the Spartans win. But, a performance like this is nothing but a good sign of things to come and the places this team can go.

So, without further ado, here is the great, good, bad, and ugly against Villanova.

Great: 3-point shooting

The performance against the Wildcats from a 3-point perspective might be the best the Spartans have put on in quite some time. Going 13-for-25 from deep is a feat that not many teams can accomplish. It seemed as though just about everyone got in on the action tonight as Joey Hauser, AJ Hoggard, Malik Hall, Pierre Brooks, Tyson Walker, and Jaden Akins all connected for three.

When you’re as hot as MSU was against Villanova, the basket begins to get larger and larger and, tonight, it seemed the Spartans were shooting into a three-foot wide hoop.

Good: Jaden Akins and his athletic ability

The more time you give Akins, the more he rises to the challenge. Throughout this season thus far, while he doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, Akins is constantly bringing the effort, energy, and confidence. Whether he is flying around for a rebound, or using his cat-like reflexes to go for a steal, he is constantly inserting himself into the play.

Akins just about blew the roof off the Breslin with his poster dunk over Villanova’s Brandon Slater mid-way through the second half. His scoring will clearly catch up, but even just being on the court gives us an edge.

Bad: Post presence

When you shoot the three-ball as well as the Spartans did, there isn’t much emphasis on scoring in any other way. If you simply cannot miss, why stop shooting? With that being said, it is a good thing the Spartans couldn’t miss because they had absolutely zero presence in the post.

Mady Sissoko finished with just one point, while Jaxon Koehler had zero in reserve. In any other game, when we aren’t shooting 52 percent from deep, that is not going to get it done. In fact, there were more than a few possessions that our guards did not even look to get the ball down low, resulting in a forced shot late in the shot clock.

Inefficient possessions like these will eventually come back to bite the Spartans if they are not careful.

Ugly: Closing out the game

If you turned the game off at about the nine-minute mark in the second half, you would have assumed the Spartans won by 20 at least. Yet, Michigan State basketball only came away with a two-point victory. Over the last six minutes of the game, Villanova slowly began to crawl back into the game and, against a proficient opponent, they may just have.

When you live by the three, you die by the three. And MSU almost died by the three tonight.

Bonus ugly: Injuries

In a non-conference game, one of the main hopes is to come away with no injuries. Unfortunately for the Spartans, two stars went down tonight.

Around the six-minute mark in the second half, Hoggard came off the court hobbling, Fast forward to the four-minute mark, Akins did the same. Hoggard seemed to be in some pain a few different times over the last few games and has ended up 100 percent a few days later. He ended up coming back in and finishing the game but, Akins’ injury is more worrisome.

Jaden was just recently cleared for gameplay after his September foot surgery. As mentioned earlier, Akins relies heavily on his jumping and agility so re-aggravating a foot injury could lead to a prolonged absence.

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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