Michigan State Basketball: Gabe Brown is key to deep NCAA Tournament run

Gabe Brown, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Gabe Brown, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Believe it or not, the return of Gabe Brown to his sharpshooting ways will be key to a deep March run for Michigan State basketball.

Things were looking good for Gabe Brown. The sophomore wing was scoring anywhere from six to 15 points consistently throughout the season, and then he got sick.

Michigan State traveled to Wisconsin for a huge showdown to begin the month of February and the Spartans found themselves down big with one familiar face missing: Brown. He played just three minutes and took one shot and it was because he was sick with the flu. He returned three days later, playing 25 minutes against Penn State and scoring seven points.

But it was clear something was different. He wasn’t taking open shots that he had plenty of confidence in just one week prior and he was just overall more passive.

After the Penn State loss, he scored just two points over the next three games and the Spartans went 1-2 in that span. He took a giant leap forward against Nebraska, scoring 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting, but he has failed to carry that momentum over as he has just six points in the four games since.

Making matters even worse, he’s just 10 for his last 30 shots from the floor and 5-for-18 from three in that span — all five threes came against Nebraska.

Gabe’s sudden ice-cold play hasn’t affected the Spartans negatively and it’s even forced guys like Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry to step it up a notch, but if Michigan State is going to make a deep run in March and potentially contend for a national title, Brown needs to play at the level he was at for the first two-plus months of the season.

Before he got sick for the Wisconsin game, the Spartans were 16-5 with him being his consistent, hot-shooting self. Since, Michigan State is 6-4.

When Brown scores in double figures, the Spartans are 6-1. In all but one conference defeat, he’s scored under 10 points and he’s 8-for-22 in those games and 3-for-12 from three. That just shows he’s lacking aggression and confidence.

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Gabe is a bigger piece to the puzzle than people realize because he could be that elite sixth man the Spartans need to get a boost off the bench and add a fifth scorer to a team that has developed two more outside of just Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Five legit scoring options would be tough to stop in the NCAA Tournament.