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Michigan State basketball: 3 quick thoughts from win over No. 23 Rutgers

MSU picked up a massive win over No. 23 Rutgers.



Michigan State basketball
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball picked up a massive win over No. 23 Rutgers on Thursday night. Here are my quick thoughts.

Losers of two straight and in desperate need of a win to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten title, Michigan State basketball clamped down on No. 23 Rutgers on Thursday night, 70-57.

The Spartans held Cam Spencer in check and shook off a slow start to pick up a big win.

Tom Izzo’s team really bounced back after a heartbreaking loss to Purdue on Monday afternoon which followed a tough defeat at Illinois. That’s something you love to see, especially with Malik Hall sidelined with an injury.

Here are my quick thoughts from the dominant win.

1. Rebounding was poor

I’m going to start with the only negative thing I have to say from the 13-point win: the rebounding was awful.

While it was just 42-34 so the Spartans didn’t get blown out on the glass, the Scarlet Knights grabbed 18 offensive boards to just six for MSU. That can’t happen if you expect to win a game in the Big Ten. If that happens again, Michigan State won’t be so lucky.

Far too often Rutgers grabbed offensive boards and finished with second-chance points which kept them in it until the final minutes when MSU ran away with the win.

Mady Sissoko and Carson Cooper have to be better on the glass.

2. Jaxon Kohler had a coming-out party

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for since Jaxon Kohler was given the nickname “Baby Jokic”: he had a breakout game.

The freshman big man had himself quite the game offensively, scoring 12 points and flashing that lightning-fast spin move in the post that is nearly impossible to guard for opposing bigs. He was 6-for-9 from the floor and two of his misses were from mid-range and deep. Jaxon was money in the post.

And he grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to really make up for the lack of Sissoko production.

This was a huge game for Kohler and hopefully a sign of things to come.

3. Michigan State played a complete game

Outside of the first five, or so, minutes, Michigan State played a complete game against arguably the best team in the Big Ten.

The Spartans fell behind by nine early and then took a six-point lead at halftime, locking down defensively and getting good looks at the basket. They even had a post game thanks to Kohler to complement the hot shooting (12-22) from deep.

Michigan State basketball held a decent offense to 34 percent shooting and 2-for-17 from three. The Spartans had nine steals, six blocks, only turned it over 10 times, and shot 47 percent from the floor and 55 percent from deep while pulling away late.

This is exactly what contenders do.

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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