The fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, fresh off their first defeat of the season at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels, struggled offensively again today and were nearly put on their first losing streak of the season. Michigan State did get enough production from Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne to defeat the Oakland Golden Grizzlies 67-63, but Spartans fans should be concerned about their lack of offensive versatility.
The trio of Appling, Dawson and Payne scored 57 of Michigan State’s 67 points today, leaving a mere 10 split between the other six Spartans that took the court today. This is the second game in a row that Michigan State was held under 70 points and once again it was due to limited production from most of the Spartans’ roster.
Against North Carolina, it was again three contributors and sparse scoring elsewhere. Appling, Payne and Gary Harris were responsible for 46 of the Spartans’ 65 points, with the other 19 distributed between eight other players that appeared in the game.
Harris currently leads Michigan State in scoring with 17.6 points per game, followed closely by Appling and then Payne. None of the other players on the roster are averaging in double figures, and 10 players on the roster are averaging under five points per game so far this season for the Spartans.
During Michigan State’s seven-game winning streak to begin the season, the disparity in production was prevalent but the quality of competition was lesser. Now that the level of competition has increased, and is about to get more difficult as the Spartans begin Big 10 play, Michigan State needs better production across the board.
Half of the Big 10 is listed in the top 50 teams in the nation in scoring defense. If the Spartans can’t find a way to vary their offense and increase their total production, it could be a very long conference season for Michigan State.