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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Tyson Walker’s historic night pushes Michigan State past Oakland

MSU+graduate+guard+Tyson+Walker+drives+past+Baylor+guard+Jayden+Nunn+during+the+Spartans+matchup+against+Baylor+on+Saturday%2C+December+16%2C+2023+at+Little+Caesars+Arena.
Jack Moreland
MSU graduate guard Tyson Walker drives past Baylor guard Jayden Nunn during the Spartans’ matchup against Baylor on Saturday, December 16, 2023 at Little Caesars Arena.

EAST LANSING – After a big win against the No. 6  Baylor Bears, the Spartans looked to hit their stride as they returned home to face off against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. 

The Spartans started out slow due to Oakland’s zone defense, and struggled to get shots off in the first half. 

“We found some holes in that zone. There weren’t many shots getting up because of that zone and our prep,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. 

Offensive rebounds were the catalyst for both teams tonight, with the Spartans recording 14, and Oakland finishing with 16. 

In the last two minutes of the first half, the Spartans turned up the pace with two shots in the paint and a hefty two-handed slam from Jaden Akins.  

“He’s a really good player, and he hasn’t played as good,” said Izzo of Akins’ recent struggles.  “When he was shooting it I thought every one of his shots was going in.”

MSU junior guard Jaden Akins returns to the court after a time out against Georgia Southern on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at the Breslin Center. Akins was MSU’s leading scorer with 14 points and was one of five Spartans to score double figures. (Jack Moreland)

Michigan State ended the first half only shooting 38% from the field, but held the Golden Grizzlies to only 29 percent, leading against Oakland 30 to 22. The physical defense from both sides was the story of the night. 

“We had a gameplan to stop Walker, didn’t care about anybody else,” said Oakland head coach Greg Kampe of the Golden Grizzlies’ plan on defense.

Coming out of halftime, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run, pulling ahead by 16. 

For the first time in Monday’s game, freshman Xavier Booker entered the game in the second half to a standing ovation, and got right to work with a ferocious block over the Grizzlies. 

With 10 minutes to go in the second half, the Spartans had connected on six of their seven three-point attempts, and led 62-42.  

On a historic night in the Breslin Center, Tyson Walker recorded his 1,000th MSU career point. Walker finished Monday’s game with a team-high 14 points. 

 “He’s a special guy,” said Izzo. “He reminds me of Gary Harris back in the day.” 

MSU shot 75 percent from three during the second half, making seven threes within that span and nine on the night. 

In the end, MSU closed the game out, holding the Grizzlies to 37 percent from the field, and winning 79-62.

For MSU, three players scored in double figures, and seven players recorded seven points or more. AJ Hoggard recorded a game-high seven assists, which was a difference maker for MSU.

The Spartans continued to shoot well, going nearly 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range. 

Izzo credited Michigan State’s guards after the win. 

“Someday we are going to have the best three guards defensively in the country,” said Izzo. 

The Spartans are set to return to the Breslin Center on Dec. 21 to take on Stony Brook. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
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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