By Steve Silverman
Spartans go tumbling down
So much for Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans holding onto the No. 1 spot in college basketball.
The Spartans went down with a thud when they lost last Sunday at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes just took them apart by an 80-64 margin.
That was Michigan State’s second defeat of the season, and when the Spartans returned to action Wednesday night at home against Rutgers, the malaise continued.
Michigan State won the game 76-72 over the Scarlet Knights, but they needed a late free throw by Miles Bridges to send the game into overtime, and then it was a bit of a struggle in the extra session until they put Rutgers away.
Izzo is clearly not happy with his team after the loss to Ohio State and the poor showing against Rutgers, but he is still quite confident about his team.
“We’ve played two games where we haven’t played as well. You know, that’s one of the problems with playing good,” Izzo said. “Maybe everybody got a little fat and sassy, as far as they think it’s going to be that way.”
“Fat and sassy” are code words for Izzo. Those words mean that his players are going to be pushed extra hard in practice going forward because Izzo is not going to put up with anything less than his team’s best effort.
Villanova exercises its defensive muscle in blowout of Xavier
While Michigan State suffered a fall, hard-charging Villanova re-emerged as the No. 1 team in the nation and supported that position with an 89-65 blowout of Xavier Wednesday night.
The key to the victory was Villanova’s strong defensive showing. The Wildcats have been a high-scoring team this year, and they had scored 90 points or more in their previous four games before hosting the Musketeers.
Head coach Jay Wright made the point that the Wildcats needed to pick up their defensive level, so he went to team leaders Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to set an example for the rest of the team.
The emphasis on defense was exemplified by the play of Bridges, who locked down Xavier star Trevon Bluiett and limited to five points.
In addition to Bridges’ sensational effort, Xavier was held to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and turned the ball over 15 times. The super quick Wildcats registered 10 steals.
In addition to the sharp defensive play, Brunson had a sharp game with 17 points and five assists, and he got the attention of Xavier head coach Chris Mack. “They’re led by the best point guard…