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Hall’s career-high pushes MSU past Penn State

MSU+graduate+forward+Malik+Hall+finishes+at+the+rim+against+Indiana+State+on+Saturday%2C+December+30%2C+2023+at+the+Breslin+Center.
Jack Moreland
MSU graduate forward Malik Hall finishes at the rim against Indiana State on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

EAST LANSING – 12 seconds was all it took for Michigan State to get a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in Thursday night’s game. In the first game of the new year, MSU defeated Penn State 92-61, giving the Spartans their first conference win of the season in lopsided fashion.

“We might not be as good as we played, and they’re not as bad as they played,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. “We had a combination of things.”

On the season, Penn State entered Thursday averaging just over 11 turnovers per game. The Nittany Lions eclipsed that total in the first half, finishing the game with 16. 

“We weren’t strong on drives, we were holding the ball away, and coach Izzo’s teams collapse on the ball and really make you pay if you’re not strong with it,” said Penn State head coach Mike Rhoades. 

“It’s one thing to have turnovers,” said Rhoades. “It’s another thing to have turnovers that lead to easy baskets.” 

Michigan State recorded 24 points off of Penn State’s turnovers, and 20 fastbreak points. 

Penn State struggled to find any momentum on offense. The Nittany Lions shot only 32% from the field, while connecting on three of their 29 attempts from long range. Kanye Clary and Nick Kern Jr. were the only two players to score in double figures, with 21 and 10 points, respectively. Graduate senior Qudus Wahab recorded eight points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.

MSU shot 56% from the field, while connecting on 10 of 21 three point attempts. 

Graduate senior Malik Hall recorded a career-high 24 points, sinking his first five shots and missing only three the rest of the way, on 12 attempts. 

“He’s kinda everything,” said Izzo of Hall’s impact. “He’s inside, he’s outside, he’s versatile. He made some great post moves, he made a couple threes.” 

Hall also finished with five rebounds and four assists, with only one turnover in 28 minutes. 

MSU graduate guard Tyson Walker scores a reverse layup against USI on Thursday, November 9, 2023 at the Breslin Center. (Jack Moreland)

Not far behind was graduate senior Tyson Walker, who recorded 22 points, five assists, three rebounds, and six steals, five of which came in the first half. 

“What (Walker) creates is amazing,” said Izzo. “He gets his hands in a lot of stuff, and that got our fastbreak going. Our fastbreak is where we’re at our best.” 

Junior guard Jaden Akins, senior guard AJ Hoggard, and sophomore guard Tre Holloman all recorded 10 points apiece for MSU. Holloman also recorded a game-high six assists, with no turnovers.

Senior center Mady Sissoko recorded only five points, but tied his career-high with 12 rebounds for the second consecutive game. 

MSU senior center Mady Sissoko throws down a dunk against Georgia Southern on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at the Breslin Center. (Jack Moreland)

“A guy that wouldn’t get a lot of credit is Mady,” said Izzo. “The job he did on those ball screens, because [Penn State] are really good coming off them, was phenomenal.”  

After a turbulent start, MSU has found its identity this season. The Spartans’ signature win against No. 18 Baylor has ignited a five-game winning streak back into conference play, bolstered by hard-nosed defense and an uptick in intensity on both ends of the floor that has guided MSU back into an offensive rhythm. 

MSU is back in action on Sunday against Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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About the Contributors
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  
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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