Here are three things the team struggled with on Sunday and can improve upon before their date with Indiana.
Shot clock awareness
Possibly the most frustrating part of Michigan State’s season is their shot clock awareness. It is happening too often where the ball is passed around the perimeter until the shot clock is about to wind down and then a low-quality shot is taken. And often times, the ball ends up in Tum Tum Nairn’s hands. Nairn is not the player the Spartans need shooting the last shot. This is obviously a product of a young team, where lots of them played without a shot clock in high school. But there has been no sign of improvement since this has been a problem all season.
A possible solution may lie with Miles Bridges. MSU has always had a big-time guard who could take over as the shot clock was winding down like Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris. Even though Bridges plays as a forward, he has the Lebron James-like skill set to still facilitate well enough to create a good shot for himself or someone else. They must feed him the ball when the shot clock is low.
Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in the country and doesn’t normally make mistakes. However, on Sunday, he made some substitution errors. The starting lineup began the game 6-for-6 from the floor and got out to a quick start. Then Izzo made the decision to remove all five starters for the second unit. This not only hurt momentum, but it left a lineup on the floor that had no scoring punch.
He must leave a couple starters in the game at all times to help create on offense. Matt McQuaid and Alvin Ellis III can hit some shots, but not unless they are fed an open look because the defense collapsed on Bridges or Nick Ward in the post. If Michigan State is going to make a run, Izzo must figure out a better way to manage his substitutions.
You have to give it to Ohio State, they made the shots they needed to win the game. But Michigan State made it too easy for them. Ohio State’s starters went 9-of-17 from three-point range, compared to Minnesota going 3-for-16 last week. See how much that matters?
OSU shot such a high percentage from three-point range mainly because of weak close-outs from the Spartans. JaQuan Lyle hit 5-of-7 from there, and there was no adjustment to run him off the line all game. If a team starts hitting from deep, they need to identify the shooters and run them off the line to prevent this from happening again.