Michigan State Basketball: Final play to beat Minnesota was beautiful

While many people are looking at Michigan State basketball’s win as just a clutch layup by Joey Hauser, the entire final play was perfection.

A tight game with Minnesota wasn’t exactly on Tom Izzo’s checklist heading into the week, but the Hall of Fame coach has to be happy that Michigan State basketball escaped an upset.

It wasn’t easy, though.

Every time Michigan State was looking to go on a run, building the lead to six points, the Golden Gophers fought back and scored 2-3 straight buckets to pull within a score or tie it up. Minnesota held the lead once in the final minutes before Michigan State built the lead back up to five. It didn’t last long as the Gophers tied things up with 25 seconds remaining.

In order to avoid overtime and a potential home upset loss to a pesky Minnesota team that was 11-3 coming into the game, Izzo needed to draw up a perfect play out of a timeout.

Izzo did just that and his players executed to perfection.

The final Michigan State basketball play deserves a ton of praise

I criticize Izzo a lot for his plays right after timeouts. While he is often lauded for his play-calling out of timeouts, I’ve noticed a trend in recent years of the Spartans not executing and wasting the shot clock down and hoisting up a prayer.

That wasn’t the case on Wednesday night.

From the start, this was one of the best plays that Izzo has drawn up in a while and the players deserve a ton of credit for not panicking when the first two options didn’t pan out.

Let’s watch it in full.

AJ Hoggard melted some time off the clock in order to ensure Michigan State took the last shot in regulation. He didn’t start the play until there were about 10 seconds left. Sometimes teams score too quickly or get up a shot and miss with time on the clock and the other team goes down and scores. Hoggard’s patience made sure that didn’t happen. Perfect start.

The ball was most likely supposed to go to Gabe Brown at the top of the key but he was being smothered defensively. The second option was Max Christie in the wing, but he also wasn’t open so when Hoggard went to him, it was clear that he would have to give it up.

Instead of forcing a bad pass into the post or a poor shot, Christie dribbled to an opening, waited for Hoggard to cut, and hit him with a perfect bounce pass on the move.

For a split second, it looked like Hoggard may try to drive and force a bad shot in traffic, but instead of trying to play hero, he drew two defenders (including Joey Hauser’s) and made a beautiful shovel pass to an open Hauser. When Hauser caught it with a little over two seconds left, he had a little room to go up, but a defender was quickly closing, so his shot would have been swatted and the game would have headed to overtime.

Instead of rushing and taking a contested shot, he felt the pressure behind him, double-clutched, and hit a soft layup with only a tenth of a second remaining on the clock. The game was over.

To top it all off, the spacing on this final play was fantastic. No one was bunched up which allowed Christie to make the cutting pass to Hoggard and Hauser stayed back to catch the pass from the point guard. Meanwhile, Gabe realized he wouldn’t be open so he kept his defender away from the play and so did Malik Hall.

While Michigan State probably shouldn’t have needed a buzzer-beater to take down this Minnesota team at home, it’s a good sign that the Spartans didn’t panic and ran one of the best plays of the season when it mattered most.