Coach Tom Izzo does not seem to think that his Michigan State Spartans should be No. 1 in the rankings.
Why? The Spartans got a big win over the Kentucky Wildcats last week, but then struggled at home against the Columbia Lions on Friday night. The Lions had a lead at halftime and the Spartans only ended up winning because of the second half performance of Adreian Payne. They won by just nine points. Talk about a scare.
After this performance, Izzo was hoping that the Kansas Jayhawks would blow somebody out so that they would move ahead of his Spartans. He said the scare against Columbia proved that his team is not ready to handle any kind of success, and that fact disappointed him. The Spartans’ win over then No. 1 Kentucky was a completely different performance than in the Columbia game. It was like night and day. It’s possible they let the Kentucky win get to their heads and they can’t let that happen.
Would the Spartans be able to rebound on Monday night against the Portland Pilots and prove to themselves, their coach and the nation that they deserve their No. 1 spot?
It did not look like it early in the game. The Spartans allowed Portland to stay in the game in the first half by allowing them to get a lot of open looks on the perimeter. The Spartans led by just four points at the half. Once again, the Spartans looked better in the second half as they started to pull away from Portland at about the halfway point of the half.
Keith Appling led the way for the Spartans with 25 points, followed by Payne with 19, and Gary Harris with 15.
It was still not a very impressive win, though they won by a score of 82-67 over Portland. The Spartans need to figure out what they are doing wrong. The first two games were impressive, but the last two have not been impressive at all.
I have to agree with Izzo. Despite being a veteran team, they have not done a very good job handling their success. That needs to change or the Spartans’ No. 1 ranking will not last very long.