Following a season-opening loss to Kansas that raised some questions, Michigan State looks as if it has taken steps toward answering those concerns over the past two games.
The Spartans hope that growth will continue when they host Eastern Michigan on Saturday in East Lansing.
Michigan State (2-1) is coming off a lopsided road win at Butler, prevailing 73-52 on Wednesday night with good rebounding and solid defensive effort.
The Spartans outrebounded Butler, 41-25, and limited the Bulldogs to 28.6 percent shooting from the field.
“We didn’t look like an intimidating group,” coach Tom Izzo said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “And I said to win on the road, you got to have toughness and togetherness. That’s what you need on the road. I thought (Wednesday), we had a little bit of both. It was something to build off of.”
Also something to build off was the performance of freshman standout Max Christie, who looks to be getting more comfortable with college basketball.
Christie had 18 points against Butler on 6-of-9 shooting. His scoring ability will be important to flank seniors Gabe Brown, who leads the Spartans at 15.3 points per game, and Marcus Bingham Jr., who is averaging 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Eastern Michigan (1-2) is facing less than a 48-hour turnaround after a 74-73 loss at Northern Kentucky on Thursday night.
Bryson Langdon put the Norse on top by sinking a layup with 7.9 seconds to play. The Eagles’ Noah Farrakhan had a jumper for the win in the final second, but the ball bounded off the rim.
Farrakhan and Monty Scott each scored 21 points in the defeat.
Eastern Michigan lost 68-62 at Indiana on Nov. 9 before beating Illinois State 103-98 three days later.
The Saturday contest will be a semi-homecoming for Eastern Michigan head coach Stan Heath, who was a former assistant under Izzo.
The Eagles have been led in scoring so far by Farrakhan, Scott and Bryce McBride, each of whom is averaging at least 15 points per game.
“We’re learning as things go on,” Heath said after the Illinois State win. “Hopefully this will be maybe the last time where maybe we learn that if we play together, if we become a unit, if we become a group, if we are connected out on the court, the game becomes a lot easier for us.”
–Field Level Media