EAST LANSING- After suffering the first November home loss of the Tom Izzo era, the No. 4 ranked Michigan State Spartans bounced back impressively, downing the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles, 74-51.
Michigan State looked much more comfortable on the hardwood to start this one, as ten minutes in, MSU was enjoying a nine-point lead, compared to the 13-point deficit they were facing 10 minutes into their last contest.
The first half of this game was carried by Mady Sissoko and Malik Hall, who each led the team with eight points and four rebounds, respectively. Sissoko would finish with 11 points and ten rebounds, reeling in his first double-double this season.
“There were some bright spots in Mady early. Mady going to the free throw line, getting ten rebounds,” Izzo said. “I thought Malik was more aggressive early, but when you sub him like we subbed him, we’re going to expect some bumps on the road.”
A 15-0 run in the middle of the first half would give Michigan State all the cushion they would need for the game, and it was sparked by a Jaden Akins coast-to-coast slam dunk that got everyone in the Breslin Center to get to their feet. Akins would finish with a nice bounce-back performance, knocking down 5 of 10 shots for 13 points on the night.
MSU would ride a 37-14 lead into halftime and would come out of halftime just as dominant.
The Spartans would never really let the Screaming Eagles back in this one, but Southern Indiana did match MSU’s scoring total in the second half which is a positive that Southern Indiana can take home with them.
“Proud of our fight…I don’t do moral victories,” USI head coach Stan Gouard said. “I don’t do those, and our guys understand that. Got to get out to a better start.”
Michigan State got back on track at the free throw line, going 23-28 after shooting a disappointing 23-37 on Monday against James Madison. However, the three-point struggles continued.
“Who’s having the party? We made a three,” Izzo said jokingly.
After shooting 1-20 from the arc on Monday, the Spartans once again mustered only one three-pointer, shooting 1-11 on Thursday night.
“I’m not [concerned about three-point shooting] because we did it all summer, all fall,” Izzo said. “They just didn’t go in on the other side of the coin.”
Michigan State will have their chance to prove doubters wrong on Tuesday, Nov. 14 when the Spartans travel to Chicago to take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.