NCAA BK

Spartans struggle with schedule

Share This Story

   
 

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)

After two tough losses in a row, Tom Izzo figured his Michigan State team would drop quite a bit in the polls.

Instead, the Spartans fell only five spots to No. 9. That helped Izzo gain some valuable perspective.

''I am not in any panic mode,'' Izzo said. ''We are going to play good teams and when you play good teams you are going to lose games. I would like to win them all, but we are not that kind of team yet. I am hoping the best basketball we've got is coming.''

Michigan State's Big Ten title hopes took a hit when the Spartans lost to Indiana and Ohio State, but Izzo is taking the defeats almost in stride. Perhaps this late-season slip was simply an inevitable byproduct of playing in an unusually difficult league — and it's not like Izzo hasn't taken a team with some losses on a deep NCAA run before.

Two weeks ago, Michigan State looked resurgent after embarrassing rival Michigan 75-52 in East Lansing. For the Wolverines, that was the end of a stretch in which they faced Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State in succession, going 1-3.

Now the schedule is being unkind to the Spartans, and it's Michigan State's turn to struggle. After losing to Indiana and Ohio State, the Spartans will have a chance to regroup before playing at No. 4 Michigan on Sunday. After that, they host Wisconsin.

''It's all so schedule driven as far as the streaks,'' Izzo said. ''Everybody in the Big Ten can play the same people but at different times.''

Indiana leads Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin by two games in the loss column, meaning the Hoosiers have the inside track to the league title. That won't necessarily reduce the intensity this week — not with the big Michigan State-Michigan rematch on tap in Ann Arbor.

FOXIEST FANS

Check out the FOXiest fans from arenas across the country and tweet us your photo.

After routing the Wolverines two weeks ago, Izzo described his team's performance as a ''perfect storm.'' But he's not about to write it off as a fluke.

''Usually when you play a game like that you shoot 60-some percent and shoot uncharacteristic from the 3,'' Izzo said Tuesday. ''The only thing we did that was maybe more uncharacteristic is we did rebound the ball a little better than we have in some other games. The shooting we were not much different than our regular.''

The biggest question facing the Spartans is how to get leading scorer Keith Appling going again. The junior point guard has scored only nine points combined in the last two games, shooting 2 of 14 from the field. Counterpart Aaron Craft of Ohio State scored 21 points against the Spartans.

''As a team we didn't guard as well,'' Michigan State forward Adreian Payne said. ''The main thing is that we have to play with more energy to win games.''

That's no easy task during a season this grueling, and Izzo seems to understand that. He planned to meet with Appling.

''You don't lose everything in two games, guys,'' Izzo said. ''It doesn't happen that way. Even you guys were ready to canonize him for most of the Big Ten season. He has had two games where he played un-Keith Appling-like. I think that's a tribute to him and how hard he plays 90 percent of the time.''

The pressure is now on for Michigan State to make the most of the extra time off before the Michigan game. Perhaps the most unusual thing about Izzo's news conference Tuesday was the fact that he was hardly asked about his team's next opponent. That's how many other issues the Spartans have to resolve.

But as the game draws nearer, the focus will narrow.

''There's motivation on both sides and we're still playing for a lot too,'' Izzo said. ''I don't think they've been out of the top eight all year, have they? We were a little more up and down. They've sustained excellence like Indiana all year long. So, no locker room talk, no stuff to put up, but it's true. I can't believe you didn't ask me if I love Michigan, by the way. I love them.''

Tagged: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio, Keith Appling

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..