That was the case, however, on Wednesday night as the Spartans moved one step closer to clinching the Big Ten regular season title, defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Breslin Center, 62-54.
MSU is now 22-5 on the season and 12-3 in conference play. Iowa sits at .500 with a record of 14-14 and falls to 4-11 in the Big Ten.
Freshman Delvon Roe, Korie Lucious, and Draymond Green were the most impressive Spartans on the night. Most of their highlights came on the offensive end, where Head Coach Tom Izzo said his team was dysfunctional.
The freshmen were responsible for 32 of the team's 62 points, but a frustrated Coach Izzo was blunt when explaining what the outcome of the game would've been without the contributions of the young trio.
"We would've lost," Izzo said. "We just did not play very good, not very inspired. We played like we didn't respect the team we were playing."
Forward Delvon Roe once again showed flashes of what Spartan fans hope to see night in and night out, just not on occasion. He led the Spartans with 16 points.
"Delvon did a better job of, I thought, of taking his time and not rushing things," Izzo explained. "His jump hook is starting to look better and he is a very good offensive rebounder. I was really pleased with the way Delvon played."
Roe established great positioning all night and was strong with the ball when he got it. It is something that he spends significant time working on with his coaches.
"It's just a great job of our coaching staff, who work with the bigs," Roe said. "They do a good job of working with us everyday in practice on how to get good position in the post and learn how to use your body and not your arms."
Lucious, who finished with 12 points, drained three from beyond the arc in less than a two minute span in the first half. Lucious added a fourth triple in the second half for good measure.
Green didn't have a big scoring night, but he did a lot of the dirty work, as he usually does. He finished with four points, but he was tied with Chris Allen for the team lead in rebounds with five in only 15 minutes.
If sophomore point guard Kalin Lucas didn't look like himself on the offensive end tonight, it was because of a jammed thumb that he suffered in practice yesterday.
I really can't catch the ball. I couldn't really dribble with it, I just had to fight through it.
Lucas was scoreless in the first half, and did not score until the 9:17 mark of the second half when he hit a baseline jumper. He hit another jumper to total four points on the evening. He did dish out six assists.
Another unfortunate occurrence for the Spartans happened early in the first half when sophomore wing Durrell Summers sprained his ankle.
Summers returned later in the first half, but was not effective. He did not play in the second half for precautionary reasons.
"I don't think it's anything serious, but it's something that I couldn't take a chance on either knowing what we got coming up," Izzo said.