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Quick Thoughts: Michigan State Handles Texas, 78-72

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No time right now for a full breakdown of the game, but a few thoughts on tonight's loss:

  • Credit has to go to Michigan State tonight, who just outplayed Texas. The Spartans were excellent on offense - even better than I anticipated - and very sound defensively. Izzo had a great game plan for our guards, and we didn't respond particularly well. Kudos to MSU for a deserving victory.
  • No such thing as good losses and all that... but this was a good loss for the 'Horns in at least a couple senses. Most importantly, we got our butts kicked a little bit. This team is most vulnerable to teams with physical guards who can frustrate our offensive gameplan. (Remember the USC debacle?: We got some of that medicine again, tonight.) It's a cliche, but this game helps us come March. We've played three very strong teams so far this year - one of 'em knocked us around a little. That's not a terrible thing.
  • We've all known for a long time that Rick's ability to coach half-court offense has been his biggest weakness. If there's one thing for him to focus on, it's how to get his players prepared for games like this one. Good coaches with great athletes on the perimeter are all going to play Texas the same from here on out.
  • Abrams hit about eleven three pointers after the game was decided, but was pretty subpar for most of the game before that. I don't want to be too hard on the kid on the night when he picked up his 1,000th career point as a Longhorn, but this wasn't a good night for him. The defense and shot selection both left a lot to be desired.
  • Augustin's deservedly enjoyed some high praise this season, but he gets a nice slice of humble pie for tonight's game. He can learn a lot from his mistakes tonight, and I'm sure he will.
  • That Morgan kid for Michigan State absolutely killed Texas tonight. He's super athletic, but he's also a true basketball player. That jump shot is smooth, his instincts are excellent, and he defends exceptionally well. He's got a big NBA payday in his near future.
  • The lack of depth was especially problematic tonight, and a huge advantage for Michigan State. They threw bodies at us all night long, the refs generally let them bump and harass our guards on the perimeter, and we couldn't adjust. It's this team's biggest weakness and Rick's got to think hard about different gameplans for these kinds of games. Getting the ball inside to Atchley would be a nice start.
  • Speaking of Atchley, I hadn't realized exactly how far he's come with his offensive post game. If teams are going to defend our perimeter that way, we need to have something working inside. Obviously, Gary Johnson is supposed to help there as well. In the meantime, getting the ball to Connor on the blocks would at least keep the defense more honest.
  • That's all for now. Texas drops its first game, and though it's tempting to say we didn't play our best basketball, we mostly just got constrained by Michigan State. Credit to them, and - hopefully - some important lessons for us. If we can't improve against teams that can muscle our guards, our NCAA Tournament run will end the moment we play a team with that profile.

--PB--