Max Christie missed 13 of the first 18 shots he took as a college player. It was a less-than-ideal start for the five-star recruit. Michigan State was 0-1 after his first 31 minutes on the court. An adjustment period was necessary.
(Not everybody is Paolo Banchero.)
But, suffice to say, an adjustment has been made. Christie is now more comfortable, more effective and more efficient. He took 12 shots Wednesday night, made seven of them and finished with a team-high 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in Michigan State's 71-69 victory at Minnesota that became official when Joey Hauser broke a tie with a bucket with less than a second remaining.
"I was happy for Joey," said MSU coach Tom Izzo.
Though Hauser was Wednesday's hero in the sense that he scored the game-winning basket, it was Christie's latest nice performance that should spark hope among Michigan State fans. After scoring in single digits in five of his first seven games, the 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 16.3 points in the Spartans' past four contests. He's among the reasons, if not the biggest reason, Michigan State will take a nine-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Northwestern.
Michigan State is now 14-2 overall, 5-0 in the Big Ten — but, even Izzo would tell you, the Spartans haven't played the toughest league schedule. The resume features two wins over Minnesota, plus victories over Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska. The combined Big Ten record of those four schools is 5-17. But, it should be noted, two of Michigan State's next three games are at Wisconsin and at Illinois. So things will soon get tougher.
"I know what's coming up," Izzo acknowledged.
Whether the Spartans will continue to win at a high level once the schedule strengthens remains to be seen. But, right now, they're 6-2 in the first two quadrants with the only losses coming to Baylor and Kansas. They remain No. 5 in Thursday morning's CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings, where Bruce Pearl's Auburn Tigers will enter the weekend No. 1.
Itching for more college hoops analysis? Listen below and subscribe to the Eye on College Basketball podcast where we take you beyond the hardwood with insider information and instant reactions.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Jabari Smith finished with 25 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 81-77 win at Alabama. The Tigers' next game is Saturday at Ole Miss.||--||16-1|
|Baylor finished with 14 turnovers and 14 assists in Tuesday's 65-62 loss to Texas Tech. The Bears' next game is Saturday against Oklahoma State.||--||15-2|
|Tyger Campbell finished with 17 points and four assists in Saturday's 60-52 win at California. The Bruins' next game is Thursday against Oregon.||--||11-2|
|Chet Holmgren finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's 117-83 win over Pepperdine. The Zags' next game is Thursday against BYU.||--||14-2|
|Max Christie finished with 16 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's 71-69 win over Minnesota. The Spartans' next game is Saturday against Northwestern.||--||14-3|
|Tyler Wahl finished with 21 points and five rebounds in Sunday's 70-69 win at Maryland. The Badgers' next game is Thursday against Ohio State.||--||14-2|
|Darius Days finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Wednesday's 64-58 win at Florida. The Tigers' next game is Saturday against Arkansas.||--||15-2|
|Trevion Williams finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in Saturday's 74-67 win at Penn State. The Boilermakers' next game is Friday against Nebraska.||--||15-2|
|Ochai Agbaji finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 62-61 win over Iowa State. The Jayhawks' next game is Saturday against West Virginia.||--||14-2|
|Josh Carlton finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday's 76-66 win over Wichita State. The Cougars' next game is Saturday at Tulsa.||--||15-2|
|Bennedict Mathurin finished with 27 points and six rebounds in Monday's 95-79 win over Washington. The Wildcats' next game is Thursday against Colorado.||--||14-1|
|Collin Gillespie finished with 21 points and three rebounds in Wednesday's 64-60 win at Xavier. The Wildcats' next game is Sunday against Butler.||--||13-4|
|USC missed 15 of the 21 3-pointers it attempted in Tuesday's 75-69 loss at Stanford. The Trojans' next game is Thursday against Oregon State.||--||14-2|
|Iowa State finished with two more turnovers than assists in Tuesday's 62-61 loss at Kansas. The Cyclones' next game is Saturday against Texas.||--||14-3|
|Paolo Banchero finished with 24 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's 76-64 win at Wake Forest. The Blue Devils' next game is Saturday against NC State.||--||14-2|
|Adonis Arms finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 65-62 win at Baylor. The Red Raiders' next game is Thursday against Oklahoma State.||--||13-4|
|Kadary Richmond finished with 27 points and three steals in Saturday's 90-87 overtime win over UConn. The Pirates' next game is Thursday at DePaul.||--||11-5|
|E.J. Liddell finished with 34 points and four rebounds in Sunday's 95-87 win over Northwestern. The Buckeyes' next game is Thursday at Wisconsin.||--||11-4|
|Xavier missed 19 of the 24 3-pointers it attempted in Wednesday's 64-60 loss to Villanova. The Musketeers' next game is Saturday against Creighton.||--||13-3|
|Santiago Vescovi finished with 14 points and five assists in Tuesday's 66-46 win over South Carolina. The Vols' next game is Saturday at Kentucky.||--||11-5|
|Oscar Tschiebwe finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday's 78-66 win at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats' next game is Saturday against Tennessee.||--||14-3|
|Nate Watson finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 83-73 win over St. John's. The Friars are on a COVID pause.||--||14-2|
|Braden Norris finished with 23 points and four assists in Loyola Chicago's 81-74 double-overtime win over Valparaiso. The Ramblers' next game is Saturday at Indiana State.||--||13-2|
|Trent Frazier finished with 29 points and five assists in Tuesday's 81-71 win at Nebraska. The Illini's next game is Friday against Michigan.||--||13-4|
|Andrew Jones finished with 22 points and four steals in Tuesday's 66-52 win over Oklahoma. The Longhorns' next game is Saturday at Iowa State.||--||13-4|
|Jalen Bridges finished with 22 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 70-60 win over Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers' next game is Saturday at Kansas.||--||13-3|