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Xavier Booker led Michigan State in key stat against Minnesota

Play this man.



Xavier Booker
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Xavier Booker played just three minutes against Minnesota but he led the Spartans in one key statistical category.

Would you be surprised if I told you that Xavier Booker led Michigan State in a key stat in their 59-56 loss to Minnesota? Booker only played three minutes so surely he didn’t make a huge impact right?

I know I was shocked to see what stat Booker led MSU in, and it only makes me ask the same question we all have been even more.

Why isn’t Xavier Booker playing more?

Xavier Booker led MSU in +/-

Booker obviously didn’t lead the Spartans in one of the major statistical categories like points, rebounds, assists, or blocks. But he did lead Michigan State in +/- margin.

This margin tells us how much each team scored while an individual player was on the floor. For example, if Booker was on the floor when MSU scored eight points and Minnesota scored five, his +/- would be +3. This may not be the most important stat, but it can tell you what impact a player is having on the game even if they aren’t scoring.

Booker shockingly led Michigan State on Tuesday at +5. But here’s the kicker, he did that while only playing three minutes. Sure, Booker didn’t contribute much in the major stats, finishing with only two points and one assist. But this margin tells us his time on the floor was still impactful.

I’ve talked a lot about how Xavier throws a brand-new look at the defense whenever he’s in the game. He’s MSU’s only post player who can stretch the floor and hit shots from 3-point range. When he’s in the game, the defense has to respect his range which opens up so many more opportunities for the rest of the team. That was seen on Tuesday in the short three minutes that he played, as Michigan State was +5 against the Gophers with him in the game.

Booker needs to play more

At this point, it’s clear to me that Booker needs to play more. Will he be the answer for this team? I honestly have no idea. But at some point, Tom Izzo needs to try something new.

We know who Michigan State’s other post players are. They’ve had plenty of opportunities to prove themselves and earn their playing time, and I don’t think they’ve been able to do that convincingly. So why not try something new and give Booker more minutes?

I’m not even suggesting having him be a starter or play 20-plus minutes in a game. But why not give him 10-15 minutes and see how he does? Izzo has shared countless times that he wants to give Booker more playing time, and there’s no better time to do that than now.

We’ll find out soon enough if Booker will get more playing time or not. No. 10 Illinois is coming to the Breslin Center on Saturday in a game that MSU needs to win. Knowing what Izzo has done all season I doubt anything will change, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

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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