EAST LANSING, Mich. – There are several reasons that Tom Izzo's Spartans of Michigan State are one of the top-ranked teams in the country at present, one key factor being their ability to spot up and drain shots with unparalleled consistency.
While the Golden Eagles saw 11 players log points on the day, led by juniors Kevin Murphy and Zach Bailey with 11 apiece, the Spartans shot 49.1% from the field on Sunday in Breslin, 41.7% from long range, en route to a 73-55 victory over Tennessee Tech.
Tech saw several opportunities during the first half of the game, but was unable to convert on the scoring end to put points on the board. The offense worked together to move the ball between players, running time off of the shot clock, but the Golden Eagles were unable to get their shots to fall when opportunities opened up.
Bailey led the way for the Tech in the first half of the game, shooting 2-2 from downtown for six of Tech's 20 first-half points in 17 minutes of play. The Golden Eagles kept the Spartans off of the charity strip, entering the double bonus shots with just minutes to play in the half, and battled back from as much as an 18-point deficit. However, MSU notched 32 points by shooting 44% from the field to hold a 12-point lead headed into the locker room.
The second half of the game saw perimeter shooter Durrell Summers fuel an 11-3 run in less than four minutes, knocking down nine of those 11 points to give the Spartans their highest lead of the game so far and to join the 1,000-point club at MSU.
With the momentum in their favor and their ability to spot up quickly off the pass, MSU attacked the Golden Eagles off the pass, extending their lead to as many as 26 in the second half. Summers went 8-for-11 and 3-for-3 from downtown to lead the Spartans with 21 points.
Bailey added another three in the second half to match Summers' perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc, while Murphy shot 3-for-10 and 5-for-6 from the line.
Liam McMorrow led the Golden Eagles in rebounding with six, as Tech pulled down a very respectable 30 boards against MSU's prestigious rebounding squad. The Spartans grabbed 35 rebounds on the day.
"Today's game was a little sloppy. I don't think you saw either
team play its best basketball," said Golden Eagle head coach Mike
Sutton. "But I'm certainly proud of our guys for how hard they
fought. We didn't shoot the ball well, and sometimes when you don't
make shots other parts of the game don't come along as well as
you'd like. That's what teaches a team to be tough.
"There are two things you know are going to happen in basketball," Sutton continued. "There are going to be runs, and the team that makes the least mistakes normally wins. To be an elite team on the road you need to do a few things. You need to make shots and you need to take care of the basketball. We needed to do a better job in both of those aspects today."
The Golden Eagles return to Eblen Center Wednesday to host SIU-Edwardsville at 6 p.m. to open the night's doubleheader. For tickets, visit the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or call (931) 372-3940.