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Tom Izzo laughs off clipboard snap, explains how it reflected MSU's defense vs. USC

Sam Gillenwater03/17/23
Article written by:On3 imageSam Gillenwater


Michigan State HC Tom Izzo
Dylan Buell | Getty Images

Defense was a major talking point for Tom Izzo and Michigan State coming into the NCAA Tournament. Now, after handling their business on that end in their 72-62 win over USC, the Spartan head coach couldn’t have been much happier with their effort.

Izzo applauded his team’s defense, including some specific individuals, during his postgame interview on the court. First, he gave credit as a whole considering the adjustments they had to make over the course of the game. However, he singled out his guards in Tyson Walker, AJ Hoggard, and Jaden Akins for making life miserable for Boogie Ellis.

“We did play good defense most of the way,” said Izzo. “I mean give them some credit. But it was our ball screen defense on those slips. We tried to clean up a little of that, we didn’t go up as far.”

“(But) you’ve got to give Tyson (credit) because, I’m telling you, Ellis is the real deal. He’s not a good player. He’s a great player. We did a hell of a job on Ellis and Peterson,” Izzo said. “AJ did a little bit of that but Tyson and Jaden Akins did a hell of a job on those guys.”

USC finished the afternoon with a field goal percentage that barely cracked 40% as well as a three-point percentage that barely cracked 35%. The Trojans also finished with more turnovers than the Spartans as they had 11 in the game.

Ellis had been the catalyst all season long for the Trojans on the offensive side of the ball. With that said, he didn’t get going today in large part due to the defensive efforts of the Spartan guards. The USC point guard finished with as many turnovers as he did field goals on his way to just six points. Drew Peterson, their second-leading scorer, also had a rough outing with only 11 points.

In the interview, Izzo then explained his behavior when it came to snapping a clipboard in the second half. While he said it was all for the love of the game, he also pointed out how it was a moment that was reflective of how hard Michigan State wants to coach its players.

“It’s just part of the fun. I’m glad you’re making fun of me. But I love it,” Izzo joked. “You know what? We’re gonna coach our guys. We’re gonna do what we do. Not letting them get away with this and that. We’re gonna be hard on them because defense wins games.”

In March Madness, it only takes one mistake to send you home. The more you do on the defensive end, though, the better off you’ll be, which is something the Spartans learned this afternoon as they went out and earned themselves a spot in the next round.