by Josh Adams
NEWARK N.J.- College basketball is so imperfect a sport and there’s a million criticisms of it that we could lay down at the feet of the NCAA or the refs or the shoe companies. Yet when we watch a game like we saw on Thursday night between two very well coached teams in front of a raucous atmosphere, you just can’t stay mad at the game. Seeing Myles Powell up close and personal put his team on his back and just go off is something to behold and I’m not sure on the college or pro level there’s any equivalent to it. When you compare the cold, hard game stats it’s one thing but Seton Hall is a small private school with a barely Division 1 practice facility. They have no business messing with the blue bloods like Michigan State and yet they had the Spartans on the ropes deep into the second half. The beauty of March Madness is anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament and what we saw this week with Evansville defeating Kentucky and Seton Hall almost knocking off Michigan State is that this sport is the most unpredictable of sports and basketball is the great equalizer in power conferences. You think Alabama football would ever lose to a school the size of Seton Hall? No way.
Now, let’s go inside the numbers for Thursday’s Michigan State win.
- Xavier Tillman paced Michigan State with 11 rebounds (3 offense and 8 defense) on Thursday and helped ice the win by grabbing three defensive rebounds in the last two minutes.
- Both teams had 8 players play double figures in minutes on Thursday night. Seton Hall played ten players while Michigan State played eleven.
- Seton Hall was held without a field goal for the final 2:40 of the game. When asked about what swung the difference in that period of time (Seton Hall was up 5 at that point) Kevin Willard said,” We should have done much better with time management. That’s why we lost the game. We took three quick shots that were not in the offense and gave them fast break opportunities.”
- Malik Hall was the turning point player for Michigan State. Hall had 17 points on 7/7 shooting and contributed four rebounds in the second half alone. In fact, Hall’s first points of the entire season came in the second half of Thursday’s game.
- Myles Cale was the scorer Seton Hall needed to help Powell in the second half to keep pace with Michigan State as the junior contributed nine points while shooting 3/4 from the three point line after halftime. Willard told the press that he talked with Cale after Saturday’s win and told him to get simpler in the offensive end. “He didn’t try to force things and took the open shots.”, said Willard about Cale’s game tonight.
- 14,601 was the attendance tonight at the Prudential Center, the third highest attendance for a Seton Hall game in the arena’s history and the highest attendance for a weeknight game.
- Powell’s 24 points after halftime paced all scorers and his second half point total alone was only three short of what the entire team scored (27) in the first half.