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Michigan State basketball: 3 takeaways from disappointing loss at Minnesota

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Michigan State basketball
© Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball came up short on Tuesday night in Minnesota, 59-56. The Spartans’ resume took another hit.

Well, that was a game to forget. Michigan State basketball went on the road to face Minnesota and fell in heart-breaking fashion 59-56.

This is a game that Michigan State needed to win. Not because the Spartans necessarily need it for their resume, but it’s the fact that they were so close to winning and probably should have.

There are a lot of takeaways from this game, but here are the three that stand out to me the most.

1. Where is the experience this team is supposed to have?

MSU is one of the oldest teams in college basketball, so why don’t they play like it? There were so many examples from this game that just shouldn’t happen with the experience Michigan State has on its team.

Missing nine straight field goals in the second half, a million missed free throws, settling for lazy shots on offense, and many bad turnovers just to name a few. The Spartans even had a nine-point lead in the second half and failed to hold on.

Experienced teams just aren’t supposed to lose games when they’re up by nine midway through the second half. Was Minnesota going to make a run in the second half regardless? Absolutely. But MSU had no business losing this game after the lead they built up.

If Michigan State is going to go on a run, they need to start playing like the experienced team they are.

2. Free throws are supposed to be free

It’s quite simple, free throws are supposed to be free. No, that doesn’t mean Michigan State should make every attempt, but this game was horrendous from the free throw line.

Going 7-for-17 (41 percent) is horrible. There’s no sugar-coating it, you can’t expect to win games with that poor of a shooting performance. Michigan State played poorly in many aspects in this game, but just average free throw shooting would have won the Spartans this game.

This is probably the hardest thing to overcome from this loss. Average free throw shooting would have been enough to win this game, and we all would be feeling a lot better right now.

3. AJ Hoggard needs to be better

AJ Hoggard just simply needs to be better. He doesn’t need to be one of Michigan State’s leading scorers every night, but he can’t have performances like he did in this game.

Hoggard finished with four points, three rebounds, and five assists. Maybe Hoggard should score more than four every night, but like I said, that isn’t the end of the world. It was some of the other head-scratching plays he made that concerned me.

There was one stretch in the second half that just made no sense. Hoggard is at his best when he’s aggressive and driving to the hoop. He also can be effective as a spot-up 3-point shooter as well. But what Hoggard doesn’t excel at is mid-range jump shots. He settled for lazy mid-range jump shots from a step inside the 3-point line on back-to-back possessions. Then to top it off, sandwiched between those two lazy attempts he fouled a 3-point shooter.

Hoggard also had a chance to make up for his poor game at the free throw line in the final minutes of the game. But he missed the final of three attempts which would have tied the game.

As a senior leader, these are things AJ can’t do. If Michigan State is going to go on a run in March, they can’t have nights like this from him.

The Spartans have to respond fast. No. 10 Illinois comes to town on Saturday and Michigan State needs a win desperately. This loss will be tough to overcome, but a win against Illinois will make it a lot better.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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