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Michigan State basketball: 3 keys to victory vs. No. 23 Rutgers

What must Michigan State do in order to beat Rutgers?

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

Michigan State basketball faces a tough test on Thursday night in East Lansing. Here’s what the Spartans need to do in order to pass.

A win on Thursday night against No. 23 Rutgers would go a long way for Michigan State basketball. The Scarlet Knights are currently sitting in second place in the Big Ten standings while the Spartans have dropped to the middle of the pack after back-to-back losses.

It’s time to get back on track.

In order for Michigan State to pick up a big win against the No. 23 team in the country, it’ll need to do a few things.

1. Keep feeding Tyson Walker

What do you do when a player is red-hot? You feed that hot hand. Michigan State must do that with Tyson Walker on Thursday night as he’s coming off his best game of the year and arguably his best game as a Spartan.

Walker dropped 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting and was pretty much unguardable in the second half against the Boilermakers. He needs to keep that going.

AJ Hoggard needs to find him early and often and there needs to be some sort of inside-out action and off-ball screen action to get him open. He’s the key to the offense right now.

2. Ball movement

When Michigan State is at its best, it’s moving the ball well around a ton to find the open man.

The best example of this was a home game a couple of weeks ago against Nebraska. The Spartans had one of their best offensive games of the year and it was because they were moving the ball around at a high rate and someone was always open.

Let’s see this happen against a really good Rutgers defense. The Scarlet Knights don’t give up many easy buckets, but Michigan State has to make sure that they do on Thursday with some top-tier ball movement to keep the defense on its toes.

You beat good defenses with ball movement leading to open shots.

3. Win the rebounding battle

Another area that usually decides the winner, the rebounding battle is important.

Rutgers has one of the better rebounding teams in the entire conference and the Scarlet Knights are 67th in the country with over 38 per game. Michigan State must win this battle on the glass if it wants to come away with a win.

If Michigan State can keep Clifford Omoruyi off the glass and also grab some big offensive boards while preventing Rutgers from getting a ton, I like the Spartans’ chances.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.

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