No. 2 Michigan State tries for 11th straight win
Turnovers and rebounding issues have Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on edge.
The No. 2 Spartans bring a 10-game winning streak into their home game against Long Beach State on Thursday. They’ve been winning by lopsided margins and lead the country in field-goal percentage defense.
In a 107-62 victory over Houston Baptist on Monday, the Spartans set a school record with 16 blocks. Sophomore forward Miles Bridges tied his career high with 33 points.
All of those things are inconsequential to Izzo. His team is not playing up to his exacting standards, and he’s angry about it.
“I know what it takes to be a very good basketball team. Right now, we’re good,” Izzo said. “Good as I always say to my players, you know what’s good, it’s average and average is C’s. Any of you fathers or mothers in here happy when your kids are getting C’s? Because I’m not.
“I don’t need to be average and we’re not that far away and we can do some incredible things, but on a consistent basis we have not rebounded as well as we need to and we’ve turned the ball over too much.”
The Spartans (11-1) allowed the undersized Huskies, who were playing without their top post player, to grab 24 offensive rebounds. Michigan State didn’t commit an inordinate amount of turnovers but its 14 giveaways were mostly careless.
“I think we lead the world in unforced turnovers,” Izzo said. “We come down, throw the ball up — first play of the game — right into a guy’s arms. And those things are not something we can take lightly anymore because they’re happening on a regular basis.”
Izzo vows to have a quicker hook for sloppy plays.
“(Monday) was a second time-and-out rule,” he said. “Next time it’s going to be a first time-and-out rule. If people are playing scared, good. They should be.”
The 49ers (5-8) have plenty of issues to iron out, particularly on the defensive end. Opponents are shooting 48.7 percent from the field. That doesn’t bode well against a Spartans team that’s shooting 50.3 percent.
Eastern Michigan shot 52.8 percent in Long Beach State’s 85-80 home loss on Saturday.
“You score 80 points at home, you should win,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “We’ve just got to continue to get more disruptive defensively. I don’t know if it’s zone, if it’s man, but right now you can’t win championships letting people be comfortable on the offensive end.”
Long Beach State can be dangerous offensively from long range (38.6 percent). It’s led by senior forward Gabe Levin (15.1 ppg), who passed the career 1,000-point mark on Saturday.
The 49ers have not fared well against highly regarded opponents on the road, losing by 29 to West Virginia and 35 to Arizona.
“We’re just not quite as good as we need to be right now,” Monson said. “That’s what these games show us. But I really like where we’re going offensively. We’re doing a lot of good things.”