EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State men’s basketball team (3-3) returned to the Jack Breslin Student Events Center to face off against out-of-conference foe Georgia Southern (0-6). Michigan State took the lead and never looked back, and with five Spartans in double digits, Michigan State won-handedly, 86-55.
The Spartans had come out strong in the first half, with junior guard Jaden Akins and graduate guard Tyson Walker each having knocked down a three from behind the arc in the first six minutes. Michigan State then went on a 14-0 run, as sophomore center Carson Cooper and Akins both threw down momentum-creating alley-oop dunks, growing the energy of the Breslin crowd. MSU had forced 11 turnovers and out-rebounded the Eagles by 13 in the first half, as Tom Izzo and his team went into the locker room up 38-11 at halftime.
The Spartans shot a stellar 47% as a team from the field, with graduate forward Malik Hall and Walker both having led the Spartans with seven points apiece heading into the break.
In the second half, Michigan State continued to dominate on the defensive end, forcing three more turnovers in the first five minutes. At the midway point in the second half, MSU had had 15 more assists than the Eagles, as the Spartans had tallied 19 as a collective group.
Akins continued his solid night, scoring three straight buckets in the paint, pushing the Spartan lead to 34. Akins scored eight of his 14 points in the second half and had headed to the bench with eight minutes left in the game as MSU was comfortably in the driver’s seat. Just like his fellow guard, senior guard A.J. Hoggard had also contributed eight of his 12 points in the second half. Sophomore guard Tre Holloman had generated a ton of offense for Izzo as he had led the team in assists with 10. Eclipsing their average of 38.7 rebounds per game, MSU had grabbed 46 rebounds, led by freshman guard Jeremy Fears Jr. with 10. Hall had also contributed nine of his own. The Michigan State defense had led the way all game, forcing the Eagles into 20 turnovers, along with Georgia Southern shooting 24% from three and 40% from the field.
Postgame, Izzo credited his team’s first half but knows that his squad needs to play a little harder and hungrier to compete with the level of talent they will see in March.
“We had to get a little hungrier to accomplish personal and team goals,” Izzo had said postgame.
Michigan State moved to 4-3 and above .500, looking forward to a week break as they open conference play next week in East Lansing against Wisconsin, on Tuesday.