Michigan State coach Tom Izzo believes his team’s No. 5 ranking is way too flattering an assessment. Judging by its most recent performance, he’s probably right.
The Spartans look to put aside the memory of a lopsided loss in the Old Spice Classic when they play Oklahoma State in a consolation game on Friday at the Milk House.
Michigan State (2-1) got outscored by 15 points after halftime Thursday, en route to an 80-62 loss to unranked Maryland. The Spartans played without injured top rebounder Goran Suton, and got 17 unproductive minutes from Delvon Roe, who is coming off two knee operations.
“We’re in a dilemma now with Suton out,” Izzo said. “We can’t leave Delvon in too long. It’s really been a mess with that thing, to be honest.”
As a result, the coach was forced to play as many as four freshmen at a time.
“We’re not a top five, top 10 team with all that in there,” he said.
It didn’t help that Michigan State got an uneven effort from its three-guard lineup of Travis Walton, Chris Allen and Kalin Lucas. While Walton had a team-high 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, Allen and Lucas combined to make 5 of 21 shots for 11 points.
The Spartans came in shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, but made only 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) 3-point attempts Thursday. They also were outscored 34-20 in the paint and missed 15 of 27 free-throw attempts.
Leading scorer Raymar Morgan had totaled 43 points in his first two games, but took only three shots in 14 minutes because of foul trouble Thursday and scored four points.
“The worst thing that could have happened, happened,” Izzo said. “Ray never really got into the game. We just couldn’t have that with all our other issues.”
Oklahoma State (4-1) also faltered in its first game of this tournament, losing 83-71 to No. 9 Gonzaga on Thursday. The Cowboys had shot 48.0 percent from the field in cruising to four double-digit wins at home, but managed to shoot only 37.3 percent (25 of 67) against the Bulldogs.
Terrel Harris scored 17 points and Obi Muonelo added 16 points and 15 rebounds for Oklahoma State, which led with seven minutes left before Gonzaga took control. Senior guard Byron Eaton, who entered averaging 17.5 points per game, scored five points while shooting 2-for-15.
“Normally when everybody else struggles, he picks them up,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said of Eaton. “But nobody helped him tonight, and that’s disappointing.”
Oklahoma State is 2-1 all-time against Michigan State, including a 64-61 win in the last meeting in the 2002 Great Alaska Shootout.
The winner will play the winner between Siena and Wichita State in the consolation final Sunday, while the losers will meet for seventh place.