Michigan State lost to Russia, 93-75, in the second game of the team’s foreign exhibition tour of Italy on Friday. Russia is ranked No. 6 in the FIBA world rankings.
The Spartans round out the trip with games against the national teams from Italy and Georgia. While Michigan State is gearing up for the 2015-16 season, the three senior national teams are preparing for next month’s EuroBasket, where they will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
“That was a boys versus men game tonight and not that it shouldn’t have been, either,” Izzo said, via the Michigan State athletic site. “They are 25 to 35 years old, and I thought one of the more physical European teams that I have seen. I thought that was good for us. We did some good things, but we did more poor things as far as how we guarded.”
Michigan State was led by Denzel Valentine with a game-high 21 points and Gavin Schilling with 17. Tum Tum Nairn, another member from last year’s Final Four team, also had a notable stat line with five assists to just one turnover in almost 22 minutes of action. This trip, especially the games against the three national teams will be big for Nairn, who will look to take a step forward in the Sparty back court now that Travis Trice has graduated.
The Spartans are playing these four games without transfer guard Eron Harris, who was suspended for the trip along with guard Alvin Ellis.
In the first game of the trip, Michigan State easily handled Basket Fiorentina, 98-54, behind 18 points from Bryn Forbes.
The Spartans continue the trip on Saturday against Italy.