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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Michigan State secures win over Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament

MSU+graduate+guard+Tyson+Walker+%282%29+sinks+a+midrange+jump+shot+late+in+the+second+half+of+MSUs+77-67+victory+over+Minnesota+in+the+B1G+Mens+Basketball+Tournament+on+Thursday%2C+Mar.+14%2C+2024+at+the+Target+Center+in+Minneapolis%2C+MN.%0A%0A%28Photo+by+Jack+Moreland%2FWDBM+Sports%2FMichigan+State+University%29
MSU graduate guard Tyson Walker (2) sinks a midrange jump shot late in the second half of MSU’s 77-67 victory over Minnesota in the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Jack Moreland/WDBM Sports/Michigan State University)

MINNEAPOLIS – For the first time in recent memory, Michigan State went into the Big Ten Tournament unsure of its fate for the NCAA Tournament.

Last week’s loss against Indiana sent the Spartans into the Twin Cities in need of a win against Minnesota to (almost) officially seal the team’s tournament hopes and extend head coach Tom Izzo’s tournament run to 26 seasons.

In the opening game on the second day of the tournament, MSU did just that.

The No. 8 seed Spartans defeated No. 9 Minnesota, 77-67, downing the Gophers in one of the team’s most impressive overall performances of the season.

For most of the year, senior point guard AJ Hoggard has been directly linked to MSU’s success on both ends of the floor.

After a lackluster first half where he committed three turnovers, Hoggard took control of Thursday’s game in the second half. The senior finished with 17 points, six assists and two rebounds while shooting a perfect 6-6 from the field and 4-4 from the free-throw line.

MSU senior guard A.J. Hoggard (11) lays the ball up in the second half of MSU’s 77-67 victory over Minnesota in the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.
(Photo by Jack Moreland/WDBM Sports/Michigan State University)

“AJ ran the show,” said MSU head coach Tom Izzo.

With Hoggard struggling in the first, along with graduate guard Tyson Walker and forward Malik Hall, MSU’s reserves likely saved Minnesota from getting out to a commanding lead.

The bench unit provided 13 of MSU’s 32 points, with freshman Xavier Booker leading the way with six in the half.

Tre Holloman also provided critical minutes for the Spartans, directing MSU’s offense for large spurts even with Hoggard and Walker on the floor. The sophomore recorded nine points, four assists, and two steals in 21 minutes.

MSU sophomore guard Tre Holloman (5) celebrates with senior guard A.J. Hoggard after scoring in MSU’s 77-67 victory over Minnesota in the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.
(Photo by Jack Moreland/WDBM Sports/Michigan State University)

“I thought it was one of his best games if I looked all around at the things that he did,” said Izzo.

Sophomore Jaden Akins recorded nine points and a game-high seven rebounds. Even with limited looks on offense, Akins connected on four of his six field goal attempts and was a staple on defense. 

“Jaden Akins will be the unsung player of this game,” said Izzo. “We look for guys that make game-winning plays, and he made game-winning plays.”

In total, Michigan State received 24 bench points, compared to Minnesota’s 11. The Gophers led for just under 21 minutes of Thursday’s game and provided a variety of challenges for the Spartans on defense.

“They did a lot of things,” said Hall. “We kinda struggled at the beginning with the chin action and the ball screens. That’s something we talked about at halftime we tried to make an adjustment on, and they did a really good job making sure that they were rolling and slipping out of them.”

MSU graduate forward Malik Hall (25) throws down a dunk in the first half of MSU’s 77-67 victory over Minnesota in the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.
(Photo by Jack Moreland/WDBM Sports/Michigan State University)

Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field but only connected on eight of their 22 three-point attempts. Both teams also struggled to shoot from the free-throw line. MSU made 12 of its 19 attempts, while Minnesota sank 11 of 19.

Five players scored in double figures for the Gophers. Junior forward Dawson Garcia recorded 19 points and five rebounds on 8-15 shooting, while also going 2-6 from the three-point line.

“He made some plays,” said Izzo. “We double-teamed him, he made some passes. He’s a three or four-dimensional guy. I think he scored it in three different ways, I think he can rebound the ball. He can definitely pass the ball.”

“He’s a very good player. And if he keeps getting better, watch out,” said Izzo.

Sophomore forward Pharrel Payne, freshman guard Cam Christie and senior forward Parker Fox all recorded 11 points apiece.

With the win, Michigan State moves to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans will take on No. 1 seed Purdue tomorrow at noon E.T.

“We’re just excited to be moving on,” said Izzo. “I don’t care who we play, we’re still excited to be moving on.

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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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