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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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No. 4 Michigan State falls to No. 9 Tennessee in Maui Strong exhibition

MSU+freshman+forward+Coen+Carr+throws+down+a+dunk+against+Tennessee+on+Sunday%2C+October+29%2C+2023+at+the+Breslin+Center.%0A%0A%28Photo+by+Jack+Moreland%2FWDBM+Sports%2FMichigan+State+University%29
Jack Moreland
MSU freshman forward Coen Carr throws down a dunk against Tennessee on Sunday, October 29, 2023 at the Breslin Center. (Photo by Jack Moreland/WDBM Sports/Michigan State University)

EAST LANSING – The No. 4 ranked Michigan State Spartans were back in action for their second and final exhibition game, a Top 10 matchup against the No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers in the Maui Strong Charity Game. In a hostile environment, the Volunteers defeated the Spartans in an 89-88 thriller.

“There were some good things, give them a lot of credit, they came in here and shot the daylights out of it early. I didn’t think we guarded very well but I thought they made some shots that we didn’t expect,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo after the loss to Tennessee.   

Both teams enter the upcoming season ranked in the top 10, with high expectations to win a regular season conference title and to do well in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Volunteers started out fast, jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first four minutes by forcing turnovers, proving why they are one of the most physical teams in the country coming into the season. The Volunteers’ lead got up to 17-1, before Malik Hall made MSU’s first field goal. Turnovers were an issue for both teams, as the Volunteers had 20 turnovers and MSU had 17.

“The turnovers were a joke,” said Izzo. “There’s were worse, Rick’s not real happy either, but our turnovers led to some touchdowns.” 

After the slow start that saw the Spartans down as many as 18 points, MSU gained  some momentum heading into halftime. Senior guard Tyson Walker, junior guard Jaden Akins, and senior forward Malik Hall led the charge for MSU, combining for 21 points in the first half.

The Spartans trailed 40-37 going into halftime. Despite struggling to shoot the basketball early, MSU finished the first half shooting 41 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc with Malik Hall leading the Spartans with nine points alongside Jaden Akins’ seven points. Sophomore guard Jordan Gainey finished with 15 points in the first half. 

In the second half, the physical play continued, with the Spartans being put in the bonus early in the half, trailing 62-56 halfway through the second half with Tyson Walker leading the way. 

Freshman Coen Carr continued to show his flashes, finishing with three high-flying dunks and nine points.

The second half saw a swing in momentum. Tyson Walker hit multiple key shots to keep the Spartans in the game, finishing with 17 second-half points, including hitting three three-pointers. Walker’s 22 points in Sunday’s game were a team-high for MSU. 

In the final seconds of the game after a pair of free throws from AJ Hoggard to cut the lead to three, the Spartans forced a turnover, where Hoggard tied the game with a three-pointer.

A questionable foul call on MSU sophomore guard Tre Holloman sent Jordan Gainey to the line, where he made one of two free throws. With 1.9 seconds remaining, Hoggard’s inbounds pass was intercepted by Josiah-Jordan James, and the Volunteers escaped with an 89-88 win.   

Despite the loss, Izzo was pleased with how his team fought back from an 18-point deficit early in the game. “Our kids learned that they took it to us and yet we bounced back, and when you’re down that big to a team that good and you have a chance to win it at the end, that’s pretty good,” said Izzo. 

The Spartans will open up the regular season against James Madison next Monday, Nov. 6 at the Breslin Center.

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About the Contributors
Caden Handwork
Caden is a sophomore journalist from Gross Pointe, Mich. He is the host of the Hedging the Bet podcast and a general assignment reporter for Impact 89FM.
Jack Moreland
Jack Moreland, Sports Photo Editor
Jack (he/him) is a Journalism major focusing in sports reporting and media photography. Growing up in nearby Okemos, Michigan, he has been a lifelong Spartan and is proud to sport the green and white. Jack is a big Baby Keem fan and is known to post on your block with your wishlist on you.

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