But it would be foolish to ignore the effort provided by Branden Dawson, who poured in 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Dawson missed the postseason last year after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in early March, but he proved on Saturday just how big of a factor he can be for a Spartans team that can never be counted out.
“He needed to have a good game,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a post-game press conference. “Now we’ll see if he can maintain that kind of energy that he had in the second half because it was a big difference in the game.”
Only time will tell as far as Dawson is concerned. And while the Spartans feel good about picking up their first conference win of the year, they aren’t satisfied with anything.
No one should be surprised. Expectations are always high at Michigan State because Izzo expects nothing less than the best from his team.
“I’m not real pleased with the performance today,” Izzo said in a post-game press conference. “But we made some progress, and we challenged ourselves, and I think we again took another step. In this league, you’ve just got to keep taking steps.”
Indeed, it is all about taking steps forward, especially in the rugged Big Ten, and the Spartans are capable of taking enough steps to win a conference championship.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.