Michigan State’s basketball season started with a heartbreaking 65-63 loss to Arizona when Wildcats senior guard Kadeem Allen drove the length of the court and scored on a layup with 1.9 seconds to play. The Spartans, ranked No. 12 in the preseason AP poll, had a 56-52 lead with 7:32 left but needed a 3-pointer by senior guard Tum Tum Nairn Jr. with 9.0 seconds left to tie the game. The game was played at the University of Hawaii as part of the Armed Forces Classic.
Freshman Miles Bridges led Michigan State with 21 points but he was the only player to score in double figures for the Spartans. It’s the second-highest point total by a freshman in his debut for Michigan State behind Jay Vincent’s 25 points in 1977. Sophomore guard Matt McQuaid and freshman forward Nick Ward each scored nine points.
Arizona had three players in double figures: freshman guard Kobi Simmons had 18 points, freshman forward Lauri Markkanen had 13 points and Allen’s final bucket gave him 10 points. Arizona had the advantage in height and length with three players 6-11 or taller but the Spartans were even on rebounds, 34-34. Where the size differential showed up was at the free-throw line where Michigan State was 5-for-9. Arizona shot 27 free throws, making 20 of them.
Here are some of coach Tom Izzo’s comments after the game:
From the Spartan Sports Network post-game show:
Izzo: “Still I’m amazed at the rebounding total, what it was, but at the same time we had opportunities to do a lot more. It’s not sitting too well with me right now because of the way we lost it. Understanding the foul trouble we were in, we just didn’t have the bodies, especially inside.”
On his message to the team after the first-game loss:
Izzo: “I was disappointed in the execution down the stretch. I thought with about seven minutes left we didn’t execute as well, and then we started executing well and we got some great shots from McQuaid and (Eron) Harris. We missed some shots. I had Tum in there too long. Cassius (Winston) was in foul trouble most of the game. He just wasn’t into the game. We’ve got to do a better job, and I’ve got to do a better job on that because we need him. He’s still one of the most cerebral guys, I think, in the whole league but he’s got to learn that you have to play both ends of the court. We gave up some things at times. But we did a lot of good things. There’s a lot to build on, there’s a lot to be proud of. Just disappointed we didn’t find a way to win.”
From post-game press conference:
On the loss: “The mistakes we made, the freshmen errors, the layups we missed…you can’t do that against good teams and win. We competed on the boards, we did a hell of a job on the boards considering we couldn’t get anybody rest because of foul trouble.”
“I told our guys before, and I think this is what it comes down to, you got to play hard enough, tough enough, but you have to play smart enough. I think we did two out of three. A couple times we turned the ball over, it was ridiculous.”
On Arizona’s final basket:
“We wanted to put a lot of pressure on. Josh (Langford) slipped on water in front of our bench and nobody helped him. That was completely our fault. He slipped, it wasn’t his fault. It was the fault of the other guys who didn’t come back and help him. That situational stuff, I have to a better job.
From MLive.com reporter Brendan F. Quinn:
Joshua Langford on the slip: "No excuse. I should have got back in front of him."
Miles Bridges also took blame for not picking Allen up.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) November 12, 2016