Three takeaways from Michigan State’s 63-61 victory over Iowa


Sarah Smith

Malik Hall celebrates after a made basket during Michigan State’s 63-61 victory over Iowa on January 26, 2023. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Jay DeCoster, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Michigan State escaped from the Breslin Center with a 63-61 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday evening. Despite trailing 10-0 after the first media timeout, the Spartans prevailed and improved  to 14-7 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten. Iowa couldn’t go in front after two missed game-winning three-pointers from sophomore forward Payton Sandfort. 

The Spartans responded in a game they needed to have, especially due to their next opponent, which will be No. 1 Purdue in West Lafayette on Sunday.  

Here are some takeaways from the Thursday night win.

Mady Sissoko showed promise

Undoubtedly, it’s been a rocky season for the junior big man. After showing some flashes against Gonzaga and Kentucky back in November, Mady Sissoko has been inconsistent for a team that needs his contributions at the center position. 

Sissoko recorded his first double-double of the season, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Additionally, Sissoko came up with some big offensive rebounds when the team needed it,  including a put-back dunk after a missed layup from Tyson Walker. 

Sissoko has faced some of the best big men in college basketball this season, from Drew Timme, Oscar Tshiebwe, Zach Edey, and other high-level centers in the Big Ten. Sissoko’s presence will certainly be needed on the glass heading into February and March.

Malik Hall is back

When senior forward Malik Hall checked into the game at the 16:21 mark of the first half, the Breslin Center crowd gave him a loud round of applause. Once Hall got going on the floor, it looked like he was fully recovered from the stress reaction in his foot that he suffered in the 75-66 loss at Illinois.  

“It is more comforting when he’s out there,” said head coach Tom Izzo. “He knows where to be, he knows what to do. I was surprised he moved as well as he did.”

Hall finished the game with 11 points while shooting 50% (4-8) from the field, along with playing a surprising 24 minutes after missing two weeks, and only practicing twice this week.  

As we’ve seen, Michigan State is a better basketball team when Malik Hall is on the floor. The offense is more in-sync, there is better communication on defense, and Hall delivers that leadership they don’t get as much of without him. As the Spartans get set to hit the road against No. 1 Purdue and Rutgers, Malik Hall should still be playing significant minutes, which will give the Spartans a better chance against two of the top Big Ten teams.

The guard play was underwhelming

This Michigan State team is known for having some of the best guard play in the Big Ten, with A.J. Hoggard and Tyson Walker at the helm. While Hoggard and Walker have been impressive, they struggled against the Hawkeyes. Hoggard went 3-12 from the field, with seven points and three turnovers. Tyson Walker finished with 10 points on 4-14 shooting. The senior guard from Westbury, New York, hit the go-ahead jumper to put MSU up 61-59 with a minute to go. 

“I would say I played ok, but I didn’t play an A.J. Hoggard type of game tonight if you want me to be completely honest,” said junior guard A.J. Hoggard. “They [Iowa] did a good job of denying and covering our sets, and making us do a lot of one-on-one matchups.”

With two tough road games ahead, it is important that Michigan State continues to get reliable guard play like they’ve had all season. With how deep the Big Ten is, the Spartans will have to continue to rely on Hoggard and Walker if they want to make some noise come tournament time.