Michigan State: Five Things to Know Before Phil Knight Tournament

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CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 14: Michigan State Spartans guard Miles Bridges (22) handles the ball during the State Farm Classic Champions Classic game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans on November 14, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Michigan State Basketball Update

The first three regular season games are over and (4) Michigan State basketball is 2-1. Next up is the Phil Knight Invitational, a one-time tournament in Portland, Oregon celebrating Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, the founder of Nike. The tournament begins on Thanksgiving Day and will continue on Friday with the final games on Sunday. Sixteen teams will play in the tournament and the games are split between two brackets.

Michigan State: Five Things to Know Before Phil Knight Tournament

Miles Bridges day-to-day after Suffering an Ankle Sprain Against Stony Brook

On Wednesday, Tom Izzo told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that Bridges is not expected to play against DePaul in their first game of the tournament.

Josh Langford Doing his Job

What is that? Be the reliable guard that gives Michigan State solid minutes and averages 12 to 15 points a game. Langford had a standout game against Stony Brook, finishing with 19 points and five assists. In the first three games, he is averaging 13.7 points on 51.6 percent shooting.

Offensive Rebounding an Issue

If the Spartans do not get their rebounding game together, especially on the offensive boards, they are going to struggle as they begin playing better teams. Against (1) Duke last week in the Champions Classic, they were out-rebounded offensively 25-11, while Duke scored 17 second-chance points.

Xavier Tillman a Viable Option

Tillman came off the bench and played thirteen minutes against Stony Brook, scoring nine points. If Tillman can contribute these kinds of minutes consistently, he can be a good option for Izzo to go to later in the game when Ward and Jackson Jr. tend to get into foul trouble. This is exactly what they expect out of Tillman.

Living and Dying by the 3-pointer

Michigan State has been outscored 99-51 from behind the arc in their first three games. The Spartans need more consistent shooting from deep by someone, whether it be Matt McQuaid or Langford or Bridges if they want to keep up with solid 3-point shooting teams.

When Michigan State took on Duke, each team only made nine 3-point shots, but Grayson Allen had seven of them. In their first game against North Florida, it was Ivan Gandia-Rosa making five of seven. Against Stony Brook, it was two players – Akwasi Yeboah and Elijah Olaniyi – each making three. Granted, Michigan State did win two of those games. If they can get some consistency from a few players from behind the arc, though, they will be better off as they move farther along in their season.

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