Defensive Score Sheet: Michigan State vs. Kansas

Keith Appling's late-game offense is getting
most of the pub, but MSU's D earned the win (AP).

Michigan State, for what seems like the first time in a decade, has one of those November victories that will continue to look better as the season wears on. The defense is a big reason to be thankful if you're a Spartan fan.

Kansas has, and likely will always be, been a very efficient offensive team under Bill Self. While the Jayhawks were decent offensively (64 points in a 66-possession game against a very good defensive team is still impressive), MSU still forced Kansas into a turnover percentage rate of 22.7 percent.

Both teams will undoubtedly mature from this game, but for the first time in recent memory the Spartans can mature while enjoying a victory.

Below is MSU's Defensive Score Sheet from the game. In-depth explanations are in this post, but here is a cliff notes version:
  • Min - Minutes played
  • DREB - Defensive Rebounds
  • FM - Forced field goal miss (includes blocks)
  • FTO - Forced Turnover (steals, charges taken)
  • FFTA - Forced missed Free Throw Attempt
  • DFGM - Allowed Defensive Field Goal Made
  • DFTM - Allowed Free Throw Made
  • DRtg - Defensive Rating (Gives players credit for stops and scoring possessions)
*The DRtg is most important part of a defensive score sheet as it is the analog of an offensive rating. If a player was on the floor for 100 of his team's defensive possessions, the DRtg calculates the number of points the opposition would score.

WELCOME BACK, "DERRICK PAYNE:" It's clear Michigan State can't survive big-time games without its main bigs (Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne) playing like stars. While the duo is still getting used to playing together (the offense isn't clicking as many have expected so far) it looked like a nice defensive tandem against the Jayhawks. 

BRANDEN DAWSON IS STILL NOT HUMAN: Take a little bit of Shannon Brown, a dash of Kelvin Torbert and boat load of Superman and you have Dawson. Seriously, the guy is eight months removed from a brutal ACL tear and he looks like the best player on the floor in every game he plays (at least he has so far). His energy level is off the charts and his aggressive risk-taking on the defensive end is something Izzo is growing to love. Heck, if he makes some sort of mistake he's able to recover, most of the time, with his athleticism. Dawson was the "victim" of a few early Kansas baskets and other than another one to start the second half he was flawless defensively regardless of who his man was.

GARY HARRIS WILL BE HITTING THE BOARDS HARD IN PRACTICE: It's becoming clear that Gary Harris is a star in the making. Harris had an offensive stretch last night where he had back-to-back And-1s and you would have thought Wolf Blitzer was making another "major projection" for this year's Presidential Election based on my Twitter feed. Because Izzo is a break-'em-down, build-'em-up type coach I know what he'll be harping Harris on this week: rebounding. Despite playing 35 minutes Harris didn't grab a single defensive rebound (he did have one offensive board). Izzo loves his wings to crash the glass, more so on the offensive end, but he doesn't necessarily want them abandoning the defensive glass. Harris should, at minimum, grab a few defensive boards a game, especially when he plays 87.5 percent of available minutes.

THE THIRD WHEEL WASN'T A MAJOR LIABILITY: The biggest problem with playing Nix and Payne together is foul trouble. The only other "center" on the roster is Alex Gauna, who Izzo has lamented in the past is incapable of defending a table. In 12 minutes, which is on the high end due to Payne's foul trouble, Gauna did a decent job on Kansas' Jeff Withey. He allowed 1.5 baskets but also prevented another pair and was part responsible for a turnover. It definitely wasn't vintage Gauna, which is a good thing for the Spartans.