|Tom Izzo has the Spartans atop the Big Ten.|
After early defeats to UConn, Miami and the Big Ten opener to Minnesota, the Spartans have bounced back to win their past six. Going into Tuesdays match-up with the Wisconsin Badgers, Tom Izzo knew he had a tall task ahead of him. The Izzo led Spartans were 1-9 at the Kohl Center since 2001. Bo Ryan is the only coach to have a winning record against Michigan State in the Big Ten over that span.
"They don't turn the ball over, very solid, they defend the three very well, they’re at the top of the league. They've earned it, I respect it, and I know it will
be a tough game for us tomorrow" Izzo said.
The Spartans came out victorious, winning 49-47, while holding the Badgers to just 29.6% shooting from the floor and improving to 6-1 in conference play.
Izzo has thrown out the mantra “ We’re not as solid as we last year yet” hinting that the inside rebounding presence of Draymond Green has yet to be filled. He also said his team must improve turning the ball over.
"I think our guys, they're going to be hell of citizens when they get done with basketball because they are guys that, the Christmas season must last all year," Izzo said. "They're not (merely) turning the ball over. They're giving gifts away.”
This presented the Spartans with a great stepping stone. The Badgers led the Big Ten in turnover margin (+3.64) and were second in the conference in 3-point defense at 30.4%. The Spartans had 10 turnovers on the game, 4 under their season average of 14.1, and shot 44.4% going 4-9 from beyond the arc.
|Branden Dawson is playing inspired Basketball|
For Tom Izzo.
After the for mentioned Minnesota loss the Spartans have come back to reel of 6 straight. During that span, they outrebounded their opponents +19 and won the turnover margin at +5. One of the key members in this turnaround has been Brandon Dawson. He has come into his own averaging 12.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and shooting at a 56.8% clip. Dawson had 2 double-doubles in that span and put up 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win at Wisconsin.
If the Spartans hope to continue this run, much will be relied on Dawson, Keith Appling and Adrian Payne.
Appling, who was promoted to a Captain on Izzo’s squad, has turned his play up. He has become the go to scorer in crucial situations. In his last six he has cut his turnovers down to 2 turnovers a game. Izzo has pushed him to the max to achieve his best, which in turn he poured on 19 points when his team needed him most against Wisconsin.
Izzo has certainly got his team going at the right time. Leading the Big Ten by a half game heading into the fifth team in the nation, the Spartans have a chance to push elevate themselves in the conference standing Saturday versus the Indiana Hoosiers.