The Michigan State Spartans beat Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Sunday afternoon, but it was less than impressive. The Spartans won 63-60, with Elfrid Payton missing a tying three point shot int he final seconds. Michigan State should be blowing out teams like Louisiana-Lafayette, and this is not an isolated incident for them.
The last three games for Michigan State have all been the same story. All at home, they have beaten Boise State by 4; beaten Oakland by 18 (led by just 4 points with 5 minutes left); and now beat Louisiana Lafayette by just 3 points. These are not particularly good teams that Michigan State is struggling with. Boise State, Oakland and Louisiana-Lafayette have combined records of 8-9, against mediocre competition.
The Spartans have played with a lack of energy and have had poor execution. In all of these games they have depended on their superior talent to overcome their own poor effort. They have been lucky that this has worked. Louisiana-Lafayette shot just 11-21 from the free throw line Sunday. Had they just been mediocre instead of awful from the line, this is a game Michigan State could have lost. The Spartans also had 20 turnovers against the Ragin’ Cajuns, too many for a team that should be dominating. This sloppy play has been rare throughout coach Tom Izzo’s tenure in East Lansing, and is concerning.
Guard Keith Appling has been the force that has kept Michigan State on the winning side of these games, scoring 19 Sunday. He has averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. This production has been big, especially with the loss of freshman sensation Gary Harris. With Harris out another couple of weeks, the Spartans will need Appling to continue his performance. Another one of these lackadaisical performances could come back to bite Michigan State, as the level of competition steps up. They travel to Miami next to play an average team. One would think Michigan State would be big favorites, but with how they are playing nothing would surprise me.