The unranked Michigan State Spartans opened up their 2021-2022 season as they normally do, at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic. Although, this time around, they were underdogs to the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who pulled away for an 87-74 victory. Ochai Agbaji had a career-high 29 points, while Remy Martin added 15 points for a Jayhawks team that capitalized on the mistakes of MSU to play ahead most of the night. The Spartans were led by Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. with 10 points apiece, but after a competitive first half, they gave up nearly 50 points in the final 20 minutes.
What We Saw
The Spartans could very well be a ranked team once they get in to conference play, if they can pull off some wins in a tough conference, but they need to clean up their play to do so. In Tuesday’s season opener, they committed 16 turnovers, with a majority of those resulting in fast break opportunities the other way for Kansas. And it seemed as if it was a replay numerous times, with lazy passing at the top of the key, leading to a pick-six on the other end. That immediately dug them a hole, and when you do that with a team like Kansas, or teams like what the Big Ten has to offer, it is tough to battle back. It was a positive to see the play in the paint for MSU, as they outrebounded the Jayhawks, 40-30, including an 11-5 advantage in offensive boards. Bingham, Julius Marble II, and Max Christie will give the Spartans constant presence in the paint all season long.
The Spartans will host their home opener this Friday night in what should be their first win of the season against the Western Michigan Broncos.