Spartans looking to finish games better

With time off to practice and focus internally, MSU hopes to capitalize and improve its play late in games.

With an early season blitz of games on the road, Michigan State has seen a lack of true practice time thus far.

That changed in the past week as the Spartans have had a long stretch off going through finals weeks, allowing time to focus internally. In particular, a focus has been placed on finishing games.

“The last five minutes of the game are most important and that’s what we are working on,” senior Travis Trice said.

The Spartans sit at 6-3 heading into a Sunday meeting with Oakland – and with four games remaining before Big Ten play. They are coming off two straight losses, with the latest an overtime setback against Notre Dame. Before that, the Spartans played Duke closely for much of the game before falling 81-71 and saw opportunities slip away against Kansas with poor shooting in the second half of a 61-56 loss.

“We have been putting together spurts against good teams like Duke and putting together halves,” junior Denzel Valentine said. “This is the time where we can build those spurts into full games and become a great team.”

Coach Tom Izzo said keeping up the energy level is important right now for the Spartans.

”Sustained energy in the second half is a big key for this team,” he said. “We’ve not played as well in the second half of some games. Is some of it fatigue? Is some of it lack of substitution? Is some of it poor coaching? Is it some of is all of the above? That is what we have to figure out here in the next couple weeks.”

Part of the practice time has been focused on overall team shape, as the Spartans closed Thursday’s practice with some war drill and added conditioning. But it all is focused in on leading to more complete games moving forward.

”We have had spurts where we have played unbelievable and I honestly think we are the best team in the country, but we need to play like that all the time and not just in spurts,” junior Matt Costello said.

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