It wasn’t pretty, but Michigan State pulled out a win against Oakland on Saturday night. The Spartans were in real danger of losing this game, but Cassius Winston scored 19 points in the second half to make sure that didn’t happen. Here are a few takeaways from the game.
MSU needs to be better defending the 3
You know what you’re going to get from MSU’s defense on the inside. They are huge and block a ton of shots in the low post. However, the Spartans are really struggling to defend the three right now. Oakland shot 37 percent from beyond the arc on Saturday, which isn’t great, but they hit enough to stay in the game. The Golden Grizzlies knocked down 10 three pointers in the game and two went for four point plays. It didn’t help that Kendrick Nunn was knocking down everything he looked at, but MSU needs to improve its defense on the perimeter if its going to win a title.
Winston is MSU’s closer
Typically your best player is the one you trust with the ball to close out big games, but for MSU, that might not be the case. Miles Bridges is MSU’s most talented player, but Cassius Winston’s ability to break down defenders and get to the rim makes him a better option for MSU late in games. Against Oakland, Winston scored 19 points all coming in the second half and simply couldn’t be stopped late in the game. He did the same thing against UCONN in the PK80 Tournament, where he scored 28 points and was unguardable down the stretch. His ability to knock down the long ball and get to the rim will help MSU win big games this year.
Turnovers will be the reason MSU doesn’t win a National Championship
This has been a problem all year and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. MSU’s fast pace style of play won’t allow it to. Turnovers are allowing inferior teams to hang around with MSU, which is a problem. The Spartans turned the ball over 17 times Saturday night, which led to a ton of easy baskets for Oakland. It happened against Rutgers last week, too. Rutgers is an underrated team in the Big Ten, but they don’t have the talent MSU does. The Spartans are making too many mental mistakes and in a one and done type tournament, anything is possible. The turnovers need to stop or MSU could continue to play close games.