Michigan State suffers painful loss at hands of Rutgers in Madison Square Garden

Spartans fall to 6-6 in conference play to begin February

Michigan State guard Jaden Akins (3) grabs a rebound against Rutgers guard Cam Spencer (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in New York, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray) (Associated Press)

The ferocious Big Ten Conference is beginning to catch up to Tom Izzo’s Spartans. Their double overtime win over Kentucky in November, and eight-game win streak spanning through December and January seem like distant memories as they have now lost five of their last seven contests.

Saturday’s 61-55 blunder to Rutgers was not only an eye sore for MSU fans, but a display of all this team’s weaknesses at their very worst. 55 points surprisingly is not the lowest scoring total Michigan State has posted this season. 34.5% shooting from the field is however, and the fact that those last 2 stats are not outliers for MSU is concerning.

Similar to last year’s squad, the 2022-23 edition of Spartans basketball wins games based on the unified effort of the entire team. Scoring off of good ball movement and solid defense followed by crashing the glass for rebounds has been the blueprint for success.

Saturday, Michigan State had just nine assists to 14 turnovers, and their leading scorer was Tyson Walker with a quiet 12 points. A scoring drought eclipsing five minutes in the crunch time of the 2nd half was the nail in the coffin of an afternoon to forget at the ‘Mecca of Basketball.’

Looking back on the loss it’s hard to pick even one player wearing green and white that had a good outing. Starting center Mady Sissoko picked up his 2nd foul at the 12-minute mark of the 1st half, forcing him to be on the bench longer than he was on the floor. A.J. Hoggard led MSU with five turnovers, marking the 6th time this season he has finished a game with four or more, and Malik Hall who is usually an offensive catalyst shot an ice-cold 1-for-9 from the field.

The harsh reality is, it’s more likely for a college basketball team to have a collectively bad effort than a good one. At least that is what the Spartans have shown this year. Even with a roster filled with players possessing different skill sets, all it takes is for one or two of them to hit a rut, and a promising win can turn into a disappointing loss. That is where coaching needs to narrow the gap, but this isn’t an article that puts a future Hall of Famer under the microscope.

The Big Ten conference is a gauntlet this year, and it will continue to be for years to come. It seems as though Tom Izzo’s squad has already hit their mid-season slump, something that is, unfortunately, becoming a trend under his leadership.

Fans will begin to worry if the version of MSU they saw today will show up again in March, but everyone knows that’s the time of year when Michigan State (for the most part) rounds into form. So, you may as well stay tuned.

More from Michigan State athletics here.

About the Author:

Alex has been producing sports content at WDIV since May 2022. Working on programs such as Sports Final Editions on Sundays as well as Pregame Specials are what he enjoys the most. Alex has been a Michigan State University fan since he was in the 2nd grade and graduated from the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences in the Spring of 2021.