Michigan State loses on the road, 75-59, to Maryland
College Park, Md. — Sometimes a basketball game is simple to analyze.
That, according to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, was the case Saturday in Maryland's 75-59 victory.
"This whole thing goes back to they shot well and we missed layups," he said, "and that is a bad combination."
Well, maybe not that simple, but the idea was spot on — Michigan State didn't make many shots and Maryland did.
Michigan State's struggles came from some predictable areas — the free-throw line — and some not as much, like the fact its three best shooters were a combined 3-for-14 from 3-point range.
The foul shooting has been an issue all season, but it was especially poor on Saturday as Michigan State was just 4-for-13, a season-low 30.8 percent.
"It's something we work on every day," senior Travis Trice said. "We've done it more this year than any other year I've been here. It's just not translating. We have to figure it out and correct it but it's not like we're not working on it. We are every day."
But the outing for Trice, Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes was more alarming. Trice didn't take a shot until more than 10 minutes had gone by in the game and he finished 2-for-8 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range. Valentine was 4-for-9 and made just 1 of 6 from long range, and Forbes was 1-for-3 on 3-pointers.
Michigan State finished the game 3-for-17 from 3-point range, 17.6 percent. It, too, was the Spartans' worst performance of the season.
"I think our game plan for trying to take Trice and Valentine out of the game as best we could worked tonight," Maryland forward Jake Layman said. "It worked in our favor."
Added Maryland guard Melo Trimble, "I think Travis Trice is one of the best point guards in the league right now. I've watched him play ever since the season started and he's averaging 19 points. After seeing what he does to other teams on film and playing him the first time, I took it upon myself to play better defense on him."
Not only did Trimble do that, he sparked the offensive onslaught for the Terrapins.
The freshman guard entered the game shooting 24.1 percent from 3-point range in Big Ten games but was 6-for-11 on Saturday with five coming in the first half.
"I'd have to say he is the straw that stirs the drink for them, there is no question about it," Izzo said of Trimble.
And Layman did his share, going 5-for-8 from the field and hitting 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.
"I think it just shows how ready and prepared we were for this game, for what they were going to bring," Layman said. "It shows how good we can be when we're all locked in."
Izzo talked all week about changing the starting lineup to help his rotation and he did so on Saturday, inserting freshman Javon Bess for Forbes.
Bess, who missed the first 10 games of the season with a broken foot and has been slowed by injuries to both ankles, was one of Michigan State's more effective players, playing 22 minutes while scoring six points and handing out four assists.
Izzo thought he and junior Matt Costello were the best players on the floor for the Spartans, but Bess would have liked a little more.
"It was a blessing to be out there and starting for Michigan State and healing as fast as I did," he said. "But it doesn't mean anything because when you think of Michigan State you think of tough and we played soft tonight. So it doesn't mean anything."
Izzo reiterated it wasn't a demotion for Forbes and that the move was more to create a better rotation. He said after the game he plans to stick with Bess in the starting lineup for the time being.
Sophomore center Gavin Schilling left the game late grabbing his left shoulder, but it was nothing new. Schilling initially hurt the shoulder during the week in practice, and trainer Quinton Sawyer said an MRI during the week showed just a sprain.
"He did hurt it, he hurt his shoulder," Izzo said. "It popped a little bit early in the week, kind of a Gary Harris one. And he got clobbered late. I don't think it's anything serious."