Michigan State's Branden Dawson Needs to Overcome Mini-Slump

By Connor Muldowney
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so a two-game slump isn’t a huge deal, but one of Branden Dawson‘s bad games came against the top team in the country and could have possibly made the difference in the game.

The Michigan State Spartans took on the Indiana Hoosiers in a battle of top-five teams and, after a five-point loss three weeks ago, the Spartans were poised to win on their home court. They held the Hoosiers winless at the Breslin Center for 17 straight visits, the last win coming in 1991, until Tuesday.

Michigan State held a 67-63 lead with less than two minutes left, and things were looking good for the No. 4 team in the country.

However, an and-one foul and a Victor Oladipo tip-in later left the Spartans down by one, and looking to make a push in the final 30 seconds of the game to take the lead back. Unfortunately, the play-call wasn’t the best, and Michigan State ended up taking a tough shot and paying the price for it– a loss at the Breslin for the first time this season.

In both games the Spartans played against Indiana this season, one player stood out for the wrong reasons. The first game saw Keith Appling have one of the worst games of his career, scoring three points, turning the ball over four times, and fouling out with over six minutes to play.

In the second game against the Hoosiers, Branden Dawson seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. There were multiple plays in which people were left scratching their heads by the poor play of the sophomore forward. He did score eight points and grabbed four boards, but his three turnovers were costly.

Each turnover was a simple mistake that could have been avoided. One was dribbling into traffic and getting swiped, something that should be avoided by a mediocre ball-handler like Dawson. The other notable turnover was a five-second inbounding violation. Five seconds is an adequate amount of time to get the ball in bounds, but in a lack of judgement, Dawson couldn’t find one of five open guys.

There were other instances that forced Tom Izzo to take notice and sit the sophomore for more time than he’s used to sitting.

It could be argued that Dawson hasn’t been the same since getting hit in the face when going up for the rebound against Michigan, but no one knows for sure what the problem is.

Could this slump be the after-effects of a possible concussion that went undetected, or is this just an average slump? Time will tell, but something needs to be done.

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