No. 10 Michigan State will host its second familiar opponent of the week at Breslin Center when Northwestern comes to town for a game on Saturday afternoon.
The last time the two teams met on Jan. 2, Michigan State escaped Evanston with a 73-67 win over the Wildcats. Michigan State was able to pull away late thanks to a clutch three from the senior forward Gabe Brown, who had a team record 20 points in the win.
Since the last game, Michigan State has won back-to-back home games against Nebraska and Minnesota. Northwestern, on the other hand, has lost all three games since last, including a double-overtime loss to Maryland on Wednesday night.
Although he didn’t get a win, the senior center Marcus Bingham Jr. said Northwestern has been playing harder than ever over the past two weeks.
I think they’ve been playing with a lot more confidence, a lot more courage since we played them,” Bingham said. I’m looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.
Michigan State enters the game on a nine-game winning streak since its Black Friday loss to No. 1 Baylor. The latest win in the unbeaten streak came at Minnesota thanks to redshirt senior forward Joey Hausers beating the buzzer to give MSU the 71-69 victory. The win took MSU to 5-0 in the Big Ten, its best start on a conference roster since the 2018-19 season.
Michigan State men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo was unhappy with the team’s performance after allowing the Minnesota guards to operate seamlessly in the pick-and-roll and heading for the rim, which resulted in easy buckets or offensive rebounds caused by defensive rotation.
Izzo said the team religiously watches the game’s tape to identify recurring errors and try to find the root of the problems.
We really spent time in Michigan State meetings and movie sessions about what we did wrong, why we did them wrong and did a lot of things, but not a lot physically, Izzo said. .
Izzo and Michigan State are looking to have a stronger game on both ends of the court when the Wildcats come to town. MSU is looking to correct their defensive mistakes while making sure they don’t have another slow start offensively like the last time these two teams met.
Junior point guard Tyson Walker said Michigan State not yet playing a full game at both ends of the court can be seen as a positive because the team has yet to find a way to move to a 14-2 record and has plenty of room to improve.
We haven’t really played a full 40 (minutes) yet, which is pretty good for our record, Walker said. So there was certainly a lot to improve and it’s easy to improve. And once we do that, it will help us a lot.
Northwestern enters this game with an 8-6 record and a 1-4 conference record, including four straight Big Ten losses dating back to the first meeting with MSU.
On offense, the Wildcats are powered by their ability to keep the ball and make the right pass at the right time. Northwestern currently ranks in the top 10 nationally in turnover percentage and assist percentage according to KenPom. The two players who have benefited the most from the Northwesterns clean offense are the senior forward Pete Nance and young guard Boo Buie, which combine to average 31.9 points per game.
The biggest problem for the Wildcats has been defensively despite MSU holding to less than 40% shooting on goal in Game 1. Northwestern has given up at least 94 points in its past two losses to Ohio State and Maryland. The biggest issue has been slowing opponents down deep. Northwestern allows teams to make 34.5% of their threes, good for 238th in the nation according to KenPom.
Michigan State will face Northwestern on Saturday noon at the Breslin Center. The match will be televised on Big Ten Network.
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