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Tom Izzo likes progress from Michigan State, but turnovers remain issue


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East Lansing — Things are still far from perfect barely a month into the season, but as Michigan State prepares to host Louisville on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, coach Tom Izzo is encouraged with where the Spartans are headed.

Coming off a solid few days at the Battle 4 Atlantis that included wins over Loyola Chicago and UConn while playing defending national champion Baylor tough for a half in the championship game, Izzo believes No. 22 Michigan State is headed in the right direction.

“It is going to do nothing but help us,” Izzo said Monday. “That tournament helped us, winning the games we won against who we beat makes me feel comfortable and confident, and we did that with two of our best shooters not doing much.”

That part was clear as freshman Max Christie and senior Joey Hauser had a hard time putting the ball in the basket. But the fact the Spartans (5-2) faced three teams all in the top 30 of the KenPom.com rankings and came out with two wins and a half of good basketball against one of the best teams in the country bodes well for what comes next.

More: Michigan State basketball cracks Associated Press Top 25; Michigan drops again

Add in some solid play from the likes of Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham and Malik Hall, who played through a sprained ankle suffered in the win over UConn, and the pieces are there for Michigan State.

“That was one of the best halves of basketball that I watched on film or in person,” Izzo said of the first half against Baylor. “Both teams played pretty well the first half. A couple different guys stepped up for us, and it’s gonna have to be that way until we get some consistency out of our group.”

The key to that consistency will begin when Michigan State stops turning the ball over.

The Spartans had a season-high 20 turnovers against Loyola, cut it down to 12 in the win over UConn, and then committed 19 in the loss to Baylor.

“Turnovers have continued to be a problem and we're working on it,” Izzo said. “Some of it is trying to put our whole group together because the pieces, I think they're great. But getting that done and getting guys to kind of have a feel for one another … (the turnovers) have still been of the ridiculous nature in my mind. A lot that I can attribute to great defense, but in some of the cases it’s poor offense.”

Tip-off for Wednesday’s matchup with Louisville is at 7 p.m. The Cardinals (5-1) beat Maryland last week to win the Bahamas Championship.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau

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