MSU's Izzo tired of turnovers: 'I can't live with it'

Tony Paul, The Detroit News
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo reacts during the second half against Iowa on Saturday in East Lansing.

East Lansing – Michigan State had 21 turnovers Tuesday, and got its doors blown off by Michigan.

Michigan State had 21 turnovers Saturday, and steamrolled Iowa.

Welcome to life in the Big Ten, circa 2016-17, where up is down and down is up, and two plus two doesn't seem to equal four.

"I can't live with it," Izzo said. "You don't win big games ... you can't win against real good teams, you can't win in the Big Ten tournament, you can't win in the NCAA Tournament turning the ball over 21 times.

"You just watched the Super Bowl. It doesn't change in any sport.

"That's like six interceptions in football."

The Spartans had 13 of those turnovers in the first half, a reason the Hawkeyes had a one-point lead despite some awful shooting.

Michigan State played decent defense in that first half, but Iowa missed a plethora of open looks, as well.

More concerning, most of the turnovers, at least early, were unforced.

"I think they were, for sure," freshman Miles Bridges said. "We were just stepping out of bounds, just passing it right to the other team.

"We just gotta stop trying to make home-run plays."

Six Spartans had at least two turnovers, with senior Eron Harris turning it over five times.

Iowa's defense seemed to confuse Michigan State at times in the first half, when at one point the Spartans turned it over on three consecutive possessions. Again, though, it was mostly Michigan State's doing.

And it left Izzo befuddled.

"I hate to say it, but it's gonna come down to, turn the ball over in practice and it's gonna get drastic," Izzo said. "We're not valuing the ball. That should all fall on me. That is one you should get on me about.

"And the harder you get on me, the harder I'm gonna get on them, and we're gonna get it straightened out.

"It's frustrating. I shouldn't let it ruin a good day ... that's disturbing."

Michigan coach John Beilein always likes to say the goal should be to limit yourself to 10 turnovers or fewer.

Michigan State has yet to be in single-digits this season. The 21 the last two games are season highs. The previous high was 20, in the second game of the season.

While Izzo is falling on that sword, he shouldn't, his players say.

"He's really been harping on the turnovers, but he can't harp as much as he has been. It's just on us," Bridges said. "We just need to handle that ourselves."

Michigan State (15-10, 7-5), at minus-3.2, has the second-worst turnover margin in the Big Ten, ahead of only Indiana, which lost to Michigan on Sunday.

Crunch time

Bridges played 37 minutes in the win over Iowa, and it seemed to show in the second half.

"We played him too many minutes," Izzo said. "I'm gonna crucify myself up here. That's a poor job on my part.

"I thought he looked tired the second half."

There's certainly the fear of wearing him down, especially leading up to crunch time and the Big Ten tournament, with the Spartans on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Bridges finished with a game-high 16 points on 50-percent shooting, and had 11 rebounds and four blocks. He had just one of Michigan State's 21 turnovers.

Twelve of his points came in the first half.

"We gotta do a better job with him," Izzo said. "We gotta get him more rest than that.

"That was not good coaching."

For the season, Bridges has averaged 32 minutes.

Banner night

Saturday was a banner night for the freshmen, who've had great ups and some disappointing downs along the way this season.

Nick Ward had a rough time against Michigan, so Izzo decided to have him come off the bench against Iowa.

It seemed to work, as Ward scored 14 on 5-for-6 shooting.

"I thought Nick was as dialed in as he was all year," said Izzo, noting that even when Ward went to the bench in the first half after picking up his second foul, he still saw the focus. "He knew what he was doing on everything, he stayed right with the game.

"Maybe it was the haircut, I don't know."

Ward had been sporting a mop-top, but got a buzzcut before the Iowa game, with some slick lines carved in to spice it up.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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