MSU dominates Ferris State 92-58 in exhibition


MSU guard/forward Gabe Brown grabs a rebound against Maryland on Feb. 28, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Liam Jackson, News Director

EAST LANSING, Mich – On Wednesday evening, Michigan State defeated Ferris State 92-58 in the first of two exhibition games for the Spartans. New faces shined for the Spartans and “The Izzone” was present in the Breslin Center for the first time since the 2019-20 season.  

Coming into the season, head coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans are not ranked within the AP Top 25 poll and are projected to finish somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten. Last season, Michigan State finished with an overall record of 15-13 and 9-11 in the Big Ten. 

The starting five for the Spartans consisted of Tyson Walker, freshman Max Christie, Gabe Brown, Joey Hauser and Marcus Bingham. Hauser is the only one of the five who started over 10 games for MSU a season ago.  

Early in the game, Walker, the transfer point guard from Northeastern, showed his ability to push the ball in transition even after a made basket from Ferris State. He kept his head up and found his teammates for easy baskets; Walker finished with six points and five assists. 

He also showed potential as a pick-and-roll ball handler, something the Spartans lacked last season. He found big men, including junior Julius Marble and sophomore Mady Sissoko, rolling to the rim and also connected with Hauser on a few pick-and-pops for open jump shots. 

Michigan State jumped out to an early 18-11 lead. Brown and combo guard A.J. Hoggard were spark plugs on both ends of the floor in the first half. Hoggard was active with his hands, getting back-to-back steals that led to a Brown layup, followed by a corner three that got the crowd out of their seats. 

Christie was the sole freshman in the starting lineup for Izzo. After a somewhat passive start, he began to attack at the bucket nearly every time he touched the ball. After coming off a screen, Christie flew down the lane and jumped violently off two feet attempting to dunk on two Bulldog defenders. Although this attempt was not successful, he kept that same energy going into the second half. 

At the half, the Spartans led 44-29. Brown led the team in scoring with seven points and the team seemed to have settled in. 

MSU guard Gabe Brown looks for an entry pass against Illinois and Ayo Dosunmu on Feb. 23, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

MSU came out of the locker room and began the second half with a 15-6 run fueled by more of Brown and Christie. Brown nailed a 3-pointer on the first possession of the half to wake the crowd back up and the Spartans never looked back. He would go on to lead the team with 19 points. 

A tough drive and finish for Christie earned him a trip to the free throw line to complete an and-1. Right after, a steal from Walker led to a runout and a Brown poster dunk. 

Walker to Brown in transition should be a common theme as the season progresses and the two continue to build chemistry.  

Two of the biggest question marks surrounding Michigan State this season were the point guard position and who would take over for Aaron Henry as the bucket-getter in important situations. Both questions may have a chance to be answered this season; the first one by Walker and Hoggard and the second by Christie who finished with 17 points and four rebounds.  

The Spartans will have another opportunity to iron out the kinks against Grand Valley State on Nov. 4 before starting their regular season in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9 against the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks as part of the annual Champion’s Classic tournament.