Notebook: McNeese State edition

Looking at what MSU showed in its season-opening win against McNeese State on Friday and some quotes from Tom Izzo.

Michigan State got its regular season underway Friday as it cruised to a 101-52 win against McNeese State.

Here are some thoughts and highlights from the game:

**Alex Gauna was the first big man off the bench, which wasn't a big surprise. He will get time ahead of Gavin Schilling until either Schilling catches up or Gauna slips up – if those things happen.

**Matt Costello kind of quietly goes about his business, which is all he needs to do as part of a starting lineup loaded with talent. His best asset might be the way he comes over the top and blocks shots. Any points MSU is getting from him is a bonus.

**The other thing MSU does with Costello is have him hold things at the top of the key in the middle of the zone so he can pass the ball to someone open on the perimeter.

**McNeese ran almost exclusively zone, but mixed in some zone press elements. MSU still has yet to see man defense, which could be because of rule changes. It will make things interesting Tuesday.

**MSU has talked about running for years now, but this really is happening now. The Spartans had a major edge in fastbreak points and were out in transition a lot.

**The best lineup MSU had against McNeese was a smaller one with Travis Trice, Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne. Trice has been a transition animal. He had a career-high eight assists.

**In transition, an opponent's nightmare has to be Appling getting a rebound. He gets going down the court before anyone can get back and it's a big advantage for MSU.

**Denzel Valentine had a very underrated game Friday. He was out in transition and had some really good passes, as well as hitting shots. His jumper is much improved from a season ago, especially from deep.

**Dawson has been much more confident dribbling the ball and moving with the ball. That's a new element to his game that he worked on in addition to his jumper.

**Tom Izzo spoke after Wednesday's practice about his team's struggles with turnovers in practice that day. It hadn't shown up before that, but it did against McNeese. That will be something to watch going forward as it was an issue last season.


Izzo on matching his predecessor Jud Heathcote in years coached:

"I really haven't thought about it. I guess I look at it like I've been here so long because I've been here since my GA days. I guess making it past Jud is going to be a milestone, but I think the milestone I want is to get more wins, more championships and more banners."

Izzo on having Trice, Harris and Dawson healthy:

"There are two big pluses. Gary (Harris) actually missed some wide open shots that were halfway down, but Trice came in and was the difference in the first half. Branden and I had a big meeting two days ago and talked about, we didn't run anything for him and he was unbelievable. He just made a lot of things happen. He got a lot of loose balls. He was the only guy in there rebounding at times, tipping balls, running the lane, passing. He had five assists. That's the Branden Dawson I thought we'd see."

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