Back in middle school, after being cut from the middle school basketball team, I was placed on the intramural squad. It was something that ended up being quite a blast though. That is, until the forces at work at Pierce Middle School decided to schedule a game between the intramural team and the real team.
When the game began, it actually started out bright for us. We won the opening tip, threw the ball down to our best player and he converted on an easy layup and don’t look now but cut-squad was up 2-0. It didn’t stay like that for long though. From there on out, it was all a blur, I remember bringing the ball up on several occasions, only to be met by double and triple teams of players a foot taller than me, forcing turnovers in every which way.
The game was a mess and it was embarrassing. I even remember one player on my squad helping the effort of the real team by scoring an extra two points for them. I honestly have no idea why they scheduled that game. I mean this was a game they sold tickets to, and there were quite a bit of people in the stands. Maybe it was to give us a sense of legit fulness, but it didn’t turn out being so much fun. Although we lost that game something like 60-20, I also remember playing my heart out every second I was on that floor.
And on Wednesday night, I witnessed something very similar to this as Michigan State welcomed a very tired Arkansas-Pine Bluff team into the Breslin Center for what would turn out to be a game that got out of hand very early. Both teams got out of the gate slow as neither team was able to get their shot to fall early.
UAPB especially had a problem with this, as they didn’t score a single point until 10:13 left in the 1st half, when senior Mitchell Anderson finally converted on a layup to cut the Michigan State lead to 14-2. The game continued to be played very one-sided for the remainder of the half as Michigan State took a 38-12 lead into the break.
When the teams came out into the second half, it turned into a very sloppy game. Michigan State started to attempt to make plays and this led to a lot of mistakes as the game became even more sloppier. This second half dragged on for what felt like forever until finally it ended with a score of 76-44 in favor of Michigan State.
While that score may look impressive, Michigan State still struggled in several aspects of the game. One of these aspects included one that they have been struggling with a lot lately: turnovers. This game, they had 19 of them as the sloppy play led to countless lobs that were broken up or passes that soared through players hands and out of bounds. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly the Spartan’s “A” game and there is room to improve for this Michigan State basketball team.
“I wasn’t pleased with the game at all,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “There were a lot of moments what we did was not acceptable at all. In a way that was one our worst performances as far as playing with some passion and some persistance.”
It can’t all be bad when you blow out a team by 32 points though. One of the brigh spots of the game included the play of sophomore guard Travis Trice, who, at one point connected on four 3-pointers in a row to finish with 12 points. For Trice, it was his best game since coming back from injury.
As for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, I just can’t believe these small schools do this to themselves. It brings me back to that day when I was in middle school.
The Golden Lions played their hearts out, but at the same time, they’re exhausted and in the midst of a season where they open up the year with 12 straight games away from home. They won’t play a single home game until January 2nd.
While Michigan State won their 69th straight non-conference home game, it’s a wonder how long it even takes Arkansas-Pine Bluff to have 69 home games.
“We’ve gotten used to it,” APB head coach George Ivory said. “I don’t think we’ve played a non-conference home game in five years.”
For the Spartans, moving forward, they still have a few non-conference games left to shake out some of their kinks. At this point of the season they stand at 7-2 and up next for Michigan State, they’ll take on Loyola (IL) (6-2) on Saturday at 2 PM.
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