Spartans corral Harrell in the second half

Michigan State buckled down on the Louisville big man after a strong first half with the efforts of Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling

Syracuse, N.Y. – In the first half, Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell’s basket came easy – almost too easy.

Gavin Schilling was worried about getting into early foul trouble, but Michigan State coach Tom Izzo didn't think it was too much to ask for his players to just put a hand in front of a 10-foot jumper.

That changed in the second half as Michigan State’s post players put an emphasis on being more physical with the former All-American. The result was an ineffective Harrell, who didn’t hit a field goal in nearly the final 34 minutes.

It also rendered Schilling and Matt Costello ineffective, anxiously sitting on the bench in overtime with five fouls each feeling like the job was left undone.

“I was so nervous and anxious,” Costello said. “I haven’t been in that position where I had to sit and watch the game and not have an affect since last year. It’s a terrible feeling.

Michigan State didn’t allow the sacrifice to go unrewarded, leaning on team defense and a momentum-less Louisville, which made just 6-of-32 shots in the second half and overtime.

Harrell missed nine shots – five FGS and four free throws – after halftime. His only points came at the free-throw line.

“The first half, he got a lot of free buckets,” Costello said. “We weren’t touching him. The second half, it was Gavin and my job to put a body on him. I think it bothered him. It got us in foul trouble. but it did a number on him. We got the win out of it.”

Costello and Schilling each went into the second half with just one foul apiece - combined rate of one foul every ten minutes.

In the second half, the two fouled out after just 19 minutes played – a foul every combined two minutes and 23 seconds.

“We got some fouls, but we also dug down and tried to do anything we could do,” Izzo said. “. . . It was by committee, and the committee was the whole team. I was trying to get a swipe at one of those balls, that’s how many guys we had down there to make sure he didn’t get a lot of freedom.”

Michigan State wound up the immediate benefactor of Costello and Schilling playing to the game plan.

Harrell attempted just two shots in the final ten minutes, both were missed lay-ups. A big steal by Marvin Clark, who was filling in for Costello and Schilling, against Harrell gave Michigan State a four-point lead with less than three minutes to play in overtime.

Watching and waiting was hard for the Spartans’ interior duo. The work had been done though, and they got to reap the reward.

“It was tough,” Schilling said of sitting on the bench in overtime. “I knew we’d pull together. I knew we’d come together and pull out the win.”

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