Final score from The Palace: MSU 65, Valparaiso 54
If only it was that close.
The score was not indicative to how badly Michigan State dominated Valpo.
To put it simply, Derrick Nix was too big, Adreian Payne was too long, Brandon Dawson was too athletic, Keith Appling was too fast and Gary Harris was too Gary Harris.
The Spartans’ biggest lead of the game was 27 in the second half, but careless turnovers and Russell Byrd sightings towards the end allowed the Crusaders to score a few extra buckets and make it a respectable 11-point loss.
Nix basically did whatever he wanted to Valpo’s two big men – “The Dutch Lug” and “The Guy Who Looks Like a Movie Villian,” scoring 23 points and grabbing a career high 15 rebounds. Apparently, The Dutch Lug nonchalantly said he faced similar players to Nix in the Horizon League. He later clarified after the game and said he meant “Stevie.”
There’s really not much more to pontificate on. The Spartans just outclassed the Crusaders. Give them credit for fighting until the end, but it was clearly evident they didn’t have the talent to keep up with a March Tom Izzo team.
One thing to keep an eye out for –the aforementioned turnovers. The Spartans had 17 of them this afternoon. It’s no real secret that all of Michigan State’s losses have involved two things: poor play by Appling and sloppy mistakes.
The Spartans undoubtedly have the talent to make a Final Four run. But for the first time, it’s their mental toughness that they need to worry about.
MSU Team Stats: FG 26-58 (.448), 3FG 6-15 (.400), FT 7-11 (.636), REB 49 (Nix 15), AST 16 (Harris 4), TO 17, BLK 3, STL 6
Valpo Team Stats: FG 19-54 (.352), 3FG 7-25 (.280), FT 9-14 (.643), REB 23 (Van Wijk 7), AST 10, TO 7, BLK 5, STL 12
NEXT GAME : 3/23, 12:00pm – winner of 6 Memphis/11 St. Mary’s