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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Walker’s 22 points propel MSU to 87-75 victory over Indiana State

MSU+senior+guard+A.J.+Hoggard+%2811%29+celebrates+with+graduate+forward+Malik+Hall+%28left%29+and+sophomore+guard+Tre+Holloman+after+scoring+against+Indiana+State+on+Saturday%2C+December+30%2C+2023+at+the+Breslin+Center.
MSU senior guard A.J. Hoggard (11) celebrates with graduate forward Malik Hall (left) and sophomore guard Tre Holloman after scoring against Indiana State on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

EAST LANSING – On Saturday afternoon, Michigan State basketball returned to the Breslin Center for its final game of the calendar year against Indiana State. The matchup marked the first meeting between both sides since the record-breaking 1979 National Championship, in what is still the most-watched game in college basketball history. 

In a hard-fought game that pitted one of the nation’s best defenses against one of its most efficient offenses, MSU defeated Indiana State 87-75 in front of a sellout crowd.

“This will be a big time win for us, because that was a very good team,” said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. 

The majority of the game hung in the balance, with ISU staying within striking distance with its motion offense that generated layups out of backdoor cuts, paint touches, and 14 three-pointers.

 “One of our main goals was to take away all of that back-cutting they do, and we did a decent job of that,” said Izzo. “But we didn’t cover some of those threes like we had to.” 

Isaiah Swope led the way for the Sycamores, recording a game-high 26 points and six threes.

“He’s special,” said ISU head coach Josh Schertz. “He’s one of those guys where the moment is not too big. I think he looks forward to it. He thrives in this type of deal.”

Swope played all but one minute of Saturday’s game and directed ISU’s offense while also serving as his team’s go-to scorer whenever they needed a basket in tight moments. 

MSU sophomore guard Tre Holloman blocks a three-point shot attempt by Indiana State junior guard Isaiah Swope’s on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

“Everytime we made a mistake defensively, he made us pay,” said Izzo. 

MSU utilized its length and athleticism on defense to combat ISU’s offensive prowess. The Spartans forced 14 turnovers, and recorded 20 points off of them, while keeping defensive breakdowns, particularly on off-ball movements, at a minimum. 

“ [Indiana State] hit a lot of shots,” said MSU junior guard Jaden Akins. “Coming into the game, they’re making 11 threes a game, so we knew they were going to hit some of them. They had a good shooting day, but we kind of weathered the storm.” 

The Spartans were led by graduate senior Tyson Walker, who finished with 22 points and five assists, and made all 10 of his free throws. Fifth-year senior forward Malik Hall and senior guard AJ Hoggard recorded 18 and 17 points, respectively. Akins also finished in double figures, scoring 13 points and snagging four rebounds. 

MSU graduate guard Tyson Walker celebrates after hitting a three-pointer against Indiana State on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

Center Mady Sissoko had four points, and tied his career-high in rebounds with 12, while also defending sophomore center Robbie Avila in minutes he was on the floor. 

“Sissoko is so athletic,” said Schertz. “And not only is he athletic, but he’s long, and at our level you don’t see that as much. Guys with that combination of size, quickness, and wingspan.” 

The Sycamores were plagued with foul trouble through the game’s entirety. Robbie Avila recorded four fouls, including two in the first half, and played only 18 minutes, the least amount of any ISU starter. Avila was held to only five points, six rebounds, and two assists. 

“I think the combination of Sissoko’s athleticism and length, plus foul trouble were the biggest things in terms of kind of negating what [Avila] does,” said Schertz. 

Junior Jayson Kent fouled out in the late stages of the second half, and Xavier Bledson, who recorded nine points, also spent most of the afternoon in foul trouble. 

For MSU, Saturday’s win closes out a grueling non-conference schedule, over a team with yet another distinct playing style that posed challenges. 

MSU junior guard Jaden Akins throws down a dunk on a fast break against Indiana State on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

“We played a lot of good teams,” said Izzo. “Are we battle-tested? I don’t know. I know one thing. We’ve played against a lot of different kinds of ball. Baylor gave us one kind of ball, this team gave us one kind, Wisconsin gave us a different kind. So I think that we’re at least prepared in that respect to guard many different sets.” 

Michigan State will return to Big Ten play to open the New Year, against Penn State on Jan. 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Breslin Center. 

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A.J. Evans
A.J. Evans, Sports Editor
A.J. Evans (He/Him/His) is the Sports Editor at Impact 89FM. He is from Southfield, Michigan and is majoring in journalism. He has covered football, women's and men's basketball for the Impact. “Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart’s in it, and live the phrase sky’s the limit….see you chumps on top.” - Biggie  

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