Big Ten Conference

Why Tom Izzo felt Michigan State basketball's defense keyed win over No. 14 Rutgers

EAST LANSING — Tom Izzo on Monday briefly mentioned he spotted some new decor inside Breslin Center’s arena since Michigan State basketball last played there Christmas Day.

They filled chair-back green seats along with pictures of other former Izzo players and all-time legends, who hovered above the MSU bench as a reminder of the bedrock tenets of the program’s success.

Michigan State forward Aaron Henry (0) blocks a layup from Rutgers guard Montez Mathis (10) during the first half at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., Tuesday Jan. 5, 2021.

14 Rutgers all night in a physical dogfight, got another starring performance from Aaron Henry and enjoyed plenty of complementary work at both ends from players trying to live up to the reputation established before many were born.

The Spartans (8-3, 2-3 Big Ten) also still need more from Joey Hauser and Rocket Watts, whose second half efforts added more optimism with Purdue scheduled to visit Friday (7 p.m./FS1).

Izzo called it “one of our better defensive performances in a couple of years.” Rutgers’ 45 points were the fewest allowed by the Spartans in a Big Ten game since a 62-44 home win over Ohio State on Feb. 17, 2019.

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