FINAL: No. 22 Spartans victorious in 73-64 Big Ten/ACC Challenge win over Louisville


MSU guard Tyson Walker runs the point during the Spartans’ 73-64 win over Louisville on Dec. 1, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Trent Balley, Sports Editor

EAST LANSING — The No. 22 Michigan State Spartans welcomed the Louisville Cardinals into the Breslin Center Wednesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Thanks to a hot shooting night, the Spartans were able to come away with a 73-64 victory.

“We just beat a damn good team,” coach Tom Izzo said after the win.

The game got off to a very slow start, with only six combined points in the first four minutes. The turnover bug really bit the Spartans again, as they committed three turnovers in a 1:19 span about six minutes in.

Max Christie is the Spartans’ prized freshman, as he’s leading the team in minutes, but the other two freshmen contributed in the first half as well. Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks each knocked down a triple, and Brooks even drew an offensive foul.

MSU forward Max Christie attempts a jumper from the top of the key in the Spartans’ 73-64 win over Louisville on Dec. 1, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

“Jaden’s going to be electric because he’s an athlete and he’s smart as a whip,” Izzo said. “I think he’s going to be a hell of a player here, to be honest.”

Perhaps the flashiest play of the first half came when Tyson Walker stole the ball, dribbled behind his back on the fast break and found a wide open Christie for the 3-pointer. The bucket put the Spartans up 27-22 with 4:39 in the half. Brooks’ 3-pointer made it an eight-point game.

A slam dunk from Marcus Bingham Jr. put the Spartans up 36-28 at halftime. Leading the Spartans in scoring at the break was Gabe Brown with 10 on 4-of-5 shooting. Leading the Cardinals was guard Dre Davis with 11.

Louisville opened the second half on a 5-0 run. The biggest reason the Spartans were able to get back in control was A.J. Hoggard, who broke the ice with a 3-pointer. Then, he fought through contact for an and-one layup. On the Spartans’ next possession, he found Akins for a corner three to put the Spartans up 45-37. 

Eight straight points from Malik Hall — a scoop-and-score and two 3-pointers — drove the Spartan lead up to 14 points with 11:30 to play. Seconds later, Walker found Bingham for an alley-oop slam, as the Spartans began to pull away, getting up by as many as 20.

MSU forward Malik Hal celebrates after the Spartans knock off Louisville 73-64 on Dec. 1, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications.

“Anybody on our team could have a good game,” Hall said. “It’s been like that since the summer… we’re so deep at some of these positions and we’re getting good play from our freshmen.”

Spartan turnovers and Cardinal 3-pointers helped Louisville cut it to eight points with a minute and a half to play, but the damage the Spartans did at the beginning of the second half was enough to ride to the finish line victoriously.

Hall had 15 points to lead the Spartans, with Christie adding 11.

“Max Christie and Malik Hall probably won us the game,” Izzo said.

Another star was Walker, who dished 10 assists and racked up four steals. Six Spartans were able to connect from deep, with Hall going 3-for-3 from the arc. Bingham continued his defensive arena tour with three blocks and two steals.

The Spartans move to 6-2 on the season and now look forward to hosting the Toledo Rockets on Saturday.