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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Home crowd propels Michigan State to victory over No. 10 Illinois

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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- After a critical loss to Minnesota last Tuesday, it was a near must-win for Michigan State Saturday afternoon. The Spartans delivered. 

Michigan State would bounce back and get their second ranked win of the season, knocking off No. 10 Illinois 88-80. The Breslin Center was packed and the energy seemed different. Louder and more active than other games this season.

“We give (Michigan State) a lot of credit, they played great today.” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “The crowd was the best we have seen it. Give them credit, they executed, we didn’t.”

Michigan State’s crowd propelled them in front, as MSU has now won 5 of their last 6 games at home against Illinois. The crowd was the deciding factor, especially in a game where there were 16 lead changes.

After the loss against Minnesota, senior guard A.J. Hoggard promised that he would get better from the line and knock down his free throws. He did exactly that: finishing 12-13 from the line and a team-high 23 points. 

“AJ has been a guy that I have been on for four years,” Tom Izzo said. “Tonight you saw why.”

Hoggard was aggressive from the jump, not only scoring but distributing as well. The senior finished with five assists and two steals. Senior leadership stepped up to the plate as senior forward Malik Hall contributed 22 points and 5 rebounds while also going 7 for 9 from the free throw line. 

“We went to Malik and he was a man in there,” Izzo said. “That’s a damn good basketball team in Illinois.”

The supporting guards Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins contributed 29 combined points as well, 19 for Walker and 10 for Akins. The Spartan four in Walker, Akins, Hall, and Hoggard finished with 74 of MSU’s 88 points, along with only one combined turnover. 

“The four of us know the team goes where we lead it,” Hall said. “When we play at that high of a level it makes a huge difference. I know it’s going to be tough to replicate that every game, and to have everyone play their A-game in a single game like that. If we can get to a point where all four of us play like that consistently, I think we can go a long way. It’s important that we remember this and continue to build on it.”  

Michigan State moves to 15-9 overall and 7-6 in conference play. The Spartans will have a chance to build more momentum and more success on Valentine’s Day, as they face off against Penn State in Happy Valley as tip-off is set for 6:30 pm EST.

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