Michigan State Downs Arkansas-Little Rock, 69-47
Nov. 20, 2011
Spartan Sports Podcasts
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Coach Tom Izzo was a lot more upset about a 22-point win Sunday night than he had been about Michigan State's 0-2 start.
His team seemed to go through the motions in a 69-47 win over Arkansas-Little Rock. And that lack of emotion didn't transfer to Izzo.
"I don't know if it was the four games in nine days and all the travel or if it was the youth or my poor coaching or what, but I was really disappointed in my team, if you want the truth," Izzo said.
Austin Thornton had a career-high 13 points off the bench, including seven free throws, and grabbed six rebounds to help an ugly game become an upset.
"I wouldn't say it was a bad game. Lackluster is probably a better word," Thornton said. "We need to understand that every night we're being evaluated and have to bring effort. Effort is one thing you control. And if guys aren't making shots, that's OK as long as you're hustling defensively and getting rebounds."
Appling had 12 points, while Wood added nine, including the Spartans' first two 3-point baskets in a 32-22 first half.
After quick starts in both halves, Michigan State had stretches of sloppy play and seemed lethargic compared to its energy in Friday's 76-41 win over Texas Southern.
"I said we're going to have our ups and downs with this team," Izzo said. "And definitely after taking a couple of major steps forward, we took a major step back."
Arkansas-Little Rock (2-3) was led by Will Neighbour with 11 points and 12 rebounds, despite 3-for-11 shooting from the field.
The Spartans shot 42.6 percent from the floor to just 31.5 percent for Arkansas-Little Rock. Neither team could hit from long range, with Michigan State 4 for 19 and the Trojans 4 for 21.
The Spartans lived at the foul line but struggled to make free throws with 25-for-41 accuracy and could never blow the game open.
"Keith Appling missed more free throws today (four) than he missed all of last year," Izzo said. "It was a complete lack of concentration. If I thought guys were grinding and that happened, I'd think one way. If I thought they were just existing and it happened, I'd think another way. I thought they were just existing tonight. I'm not tolerating that here."
Arkansas-Little Rock hung tough on the boards and was only outrebounded 40-36 by a team that dominated UNC 49-34 on the glass.
"Michigan State, they've been known for 15 years about the boards, a bully team," Neighbour said. "Coach made an emphasis of that. The game plan was to control the boards or to keep them off the boards as much as we could."
The Spartans turned the ball over just 3 seconds into the game but quickly grabbed control and took a 25-9 lead in the first 13:02.
But the Trojans battled back and cut the deficit to 10 at the break, holding Michigan State without an offensive rebound in the first 20 minutes
The second half began much like the first, as the Spartans spurted to a 43-24 edge. Transition baskets made the difference in an early 11-2 run.
Michigan State made plenty of mistakes the rest of the way, despite lots of lineup combinations. It committed 16 turnovers, three fewer than Arkansas-Little Rock, in a game with little flow.
"We had leads and opportunities, but we start the game with three turnovers in the first couple of minutes after putting an emphasis on it," Izzo said. "We miss 16 free throws and three front ends of a one-and-one. We don't get an offensive rebound in the first half for the first time in the history of my program -- complete lack of energy by a lot of the young guys."
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