Michigan State fell to Illinois 75-66 last night in a tough road loss. The Spartans need to bounce back with a huge week coming up at the Breslin.
On Monday, No. 3 Purdue heads to East Lansing with only a single loss to Rutgers on their record. Zach Edey and Fletcher Loyer are the two biggest impact players for Purdue. Michigan State fans should be familiar with the Loyer family, as Fletcher’s brother Foster played for MSU for multiple seasons. Foster has since transferred to Davidson, but Fletcher has been balling as a freshman for Purdue.
If Edey and Loyer can get rolling it’s hard to stop the Boilermakers. Braden Smith, Caleb Furst, and Brandon Newman are all guys to watch out for as well. MSU can’t afford to have extended scoring droughts or Purdue will bury them.
Then on Thursday at 6:30 Michigan State welcomes the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to the Breslin Center. If the Spartans drop the Purdue game there’s real potential for a three game losing streak. MSU will have to deal with the likes of Cam Spencer, Clifford Omoruyi, and Aundre Hyatt. Rutgers is an extremely tough team, with a conference record of 4-2, and they can take down just about anyone.
Michigan State’s trip to Illinois
Michigan State had an interesting gameplan against Illinois. They only took seven shots from behind the three-point line, and they made none of them. Missing from outside probably wasn’t part of the plan, but they consistently drove inside for baskets. And it worked for a majority of the game, until they collapsed at the end.
There were a few missed calls by the officials, but the Fighting Illini went on an impressive run to close out the night. They outscored MSU 15-6 over the game’s final five minutes. It’s never easy to win on the road in the Big Ten, but I was impressed with MSU center Carson Cooper. Cooper came off the bench and managed 6 points and 4 rebounds in 12 minutes. That might not seem much, but it was good to see him succeed after his early season struggles.
For MSU to compete in these next two games they’ll need to get scoring from A.J. Hoggard, Malik Hall, Tyson Walker, Joey Hauser and Jaden Akins. If only one or two of them are shooting well then it might be a struggle. Being able to spread around the points is vital, and this is a very important stretch of the season. Hall injured his ankle late on Friday, and things will only be harder for MSU if he’s not able to go this week.