After a gritty performance in the first half at the Bank United Center in Miami, the Michigan State Spartans didn't seem to have the fight for the second 20 minutes of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Poor shooting in the first half was salvaged by a rebounding edge, but after an almost six minute field-goal drought, Sparty relinquished the lead early in the second half and were unable to make themselves serious competitors for the rest of the game.
The pride of the Spartans, their backcourt led by Keith Appling, was easily bested by the three-headed guard tandem of Trey McKinney Jones, Shane Larkin, and Durand Scott. The three combined for 48 of Miami's 67 points and contributed heavily to 9-16 shooting from behind the arc and an astounding 16-18 at the charity stripe. On the flipside, Michigan State shot under 50 percent from the free throw line and only had 11 assists on their 24 buckets.
What may have been even more disappointing was the play of Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. Besides the poor shooting from down low, it was guard Gary Harris who led the Spartans in rebounds by a good margin. This is the same Gary Harris, mind you, that just came back from a shoulder injury. Also returning from injury was sixth man guard Travis Trice, whose performance was as lackluster as the rest of his team.
While the Hurricanes continued to pass and rotate the ball in the half court, Coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans provided no answer. Someone for Michigan State needed to step up, but in the end the Spartans had to come to the realization that there was no Draymond Green on the floor. Miami will be one of the best teams in the ACC this year, but there is no excuse for how lethargic the Spartans played.
Sparty next plays at home against Nichols State on December 1st.
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