Malik Hall sets new career-high as Michigan State dominates in its first Big Ten win of the season

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Aleesa Luecker

As he came off the court, he received a round of applause. 

And when he came back on the jumbotron, he garnered an even louder applause, putting a bright smile on his face. 

Setting a new career-high, senior forward Malik Hall poured in 24 points on 9-12 shooting, including 2-2 from beyond the arc. 

“It’s really just a blessing,” Hall said. “I’ve been here through highs and lows, so just to have a little bit of success and have a little happiness for the night is something I’m happy for.” 

The efficiency from Hall was reminiscent of his 17-point outing against Seton Hall on Nov. 14, 2019, where he finished a perfect 7-7 from the field.

“I was mad when I missed that layup, oh my gosh,” Hall said with a smile on his face. “I knew it, I was like ‘man I’m 100 (percent) right now…I was thinking about that.” 

Michigan State started hot and fast, and never pulled off the brakes. MSU scored at least 50 points in the first half of a Big Ten game since leading Northwestern 52-32 on Jan. 2, 2019. 

Getting the ball to drop in the net looked second nature to the Spartans tonight, as they shot 64% from the field and 62% from the three-point line in the first half, something that the Spartans have been working on getting better at all season. 

And to top off the fiery first half, graduate guard Tyson Walker tossed up a lob to star freshman forward Coen Carr for an emphatic slam dunk that brought the Breslin Center to its feet.

Hall had himself 15 first-half points, Walker dropped 13, and senior center Mady Sissoko collected four rebounds to push the Spartans ahead of the Penn State Nittany Lions 51-26 at halftime. 

Also putting up an impressive performance was sophomore guard Tre Holloman, who sank four of his five first-half shots for eight points in the half. 

Setting aside a short dry spell from the Spartans in the second half, courtesy of the Penn State defense suffocating MSU, the final 20 minutes of the game were reflective of the first 20 minutes.

Five players finished in double-digit scoring figures, Sissoko secured his second straight 12 rebound game, and Walker lured in six steals to finish the first game of the New Year victorious, 92-61. 

“They whooped us,” Penn State head coach Mike Rhoades said. “An old-fashioned whooping right there.” 

Not only were the Spartans able to put on a show for their fans, but MSU alumni filled the Izzone as opposed to current students, which made head coach Tom Izzo proud. 

“I get a lot of things at this university,” Izzo said. “Nothing in the world like having 1,500 or whatever there was, alums there. There’s not a lot of places that have that.” 

Locking up its first conference win of the year, Michigan State will now look to extend its winning streak to six as they prepare to travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 pm EST.

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