Michigan State basketball: It's time for the leaders to lead

Feb 17, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Michigan State Spartans guard A.J. Hoggard (11) dribbles
Feb 17, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard A.J. Hoggard (11) dribbles / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to Iowa has become the norm for Michigan State basketball in recent years. It's unfortunate, but somehow Fran McCaffery's teams have had Tom Izzo's number.

That continued on Tuesday night.

Michigan State didn't have answers for Iowa's run in the first half and the Hawkeyes went from trailing by three midway through the half to taking a 12-point lead into the locker room. The Spartan defense wasn't getting any stops and the leaders were going through the motions. Oh, and the multiple missed layups by AJ Hoggard didn't help.

Hoggard's body language has been a hot topic throughout his career, but there were multiple instances of him looking disinterested, including on a missed shot by Iowa which resulted in a long rebound because he stood there and didn't box his man out. He watched as his guy out-hustled him for the board and ended up kicking it out for a big three.

Malik Hall was invested as he always is, but he looked gassed in the first half. Michigan State needed him but he made some critical mistakes down the stretch as well that were very unlike him.

And then Tyson Walker had a pedestrian game, by his standards. He still scored 16 points and was solid offensively, but he disappeared after hitting a couple of threes early and then a big one in the second half to cut Iowa's lead to seven with about 10 minutes left.

When Michigan State needed its leaders to step up and take control, they just couldn't. Maybe offensively they did, but they couldn't get the necessary stops or rebounds to complete a comeback. Multiple times, Michigan State had the ball with a chance to cut the Iowa lead to five or three and the Spartans just couldn't make the plays. Turnovers, sloppy play, and poor shot clock management led to empty possessions.

Now after this disappointing loss, it's time for the leaders to step up and lead. The Spartans need a guy or two to do what Aaron Henry did in 2020-21 and will this team to wins. He would not let the Spartans get complacent even in that forgettable season and they need that again.

It's time to for the leaders to lead instead of just talking about leading.