However, for the Michigan State Spartans Saturday at the Breslin Center; their 63-45 victory over the visiting Delaware State Hornets left much to be desired.
Tom Izzo said afterward that the blame for the Spartans sluggish performance rested squarely on his shoulders.
"Well, you can blame me," Izzo said. "Delaware State was a really tough team to schedule and I thought they did a good job. You have to give them credit because they slowed the ball down. We sat back and they missed their first four or five shots. What we wanted to do worked, but we didn't get a rebound.
"The negatives outweighed the positives and we never really got in synch. No question, our rebounding is nowhere near where it needs to be or where it should be. But if you want to question what happened, question me and question the style. I really think that, this time, it is hard to question the guys. This one falls on me, not them."
Delaware State's strong first half was keyed by their trapping zone defense, which kept Michigan State Center Paul Davis from even attempting a shot in the game's first 15 minutes, 59 seconds.
"We let their style of play affect the way we played," Davis said. "I didn't create many passing lanes. And we can't get where we want to get if I only take two shots. That won't do it against Big Ten teams or NCAA tournament teams. I know if we play this way on Tuesday (against UCLA), it won't be a merry Christmas."
Davis collected only two field goals for the entire game, went 2-of-3 from the line, and finished with just 6 points.
Despite the Hornets being able to control Davis, Michigan State (6-2) survived, keyed by an excellent second half, which included 13 assists and just four turnovers.
Michigan State trailed 22-17 with 2:27 left in the first half. From there, the Spartans scored the last seven points of the period to take a slim 24-22 lead at the break.
"It was so frustrating," said senior Guard Chris Hill, who finished with a game high 14 points. "Nobody wants to play defense for 35 seconds on every possession. But that's no excuse for not getting rebounds or for some of the turnovers we had.
"A game like this kind of eats at you. And if we do this again, we'll get beat, no question."
Michigan State shot .523 from the field for the game and took better control of the ball in the second half after collecting six assists and nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Delaware State shot .368 from the field, was out-rebounded 28-22 by the Spartans and was outscored 28-14 in the lane.
Delaware State's Head Coach Greg Jackson, while certainly not happy with the loss, gave credit to his team's first half performance. "We knew coming in we were going against a really good basketball team that is nationally ranked, Jackson said. "We wanted to limit their possession time. I thought we did an excellent job of that."
Jackson acknowledged however that the Spartans' talent level and their fans were both keys in the home team's second half surge to victory. "In the second half, they came out with a little more intensity and their talent level is impressive, Jackson said. "Then, the crowd kind of took over, and I thought that was the difference of the ball game."
Tom Izzo also credited the fans for their support during the opening weekend of the holiday break, despite the Spartans less than stellar performance. "I have to compliment the fans, Izzo said. For us to get that kind of crowd for a game when there are no students in town you'd like to give them a good show and we didn't."
Michigan State loyalists helped the home team continue their Breslin Center sell-out streak Saturday. The streak now stands at 101 consecutive regular-season games and began at the start of the 1998-99 season. The Spartans have won 89 of their last 95 regular-season games in Breslin, a winning percentage of .937.
Next up for Michigan State is a Tuesday night visit at the Breslin Center courtesy of the UCLA Bruins. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 9.p.m. and will be carried nationally on ESPN 2.