It wasn’t a pretty start, but it was quite the finish. Michigan State wins 70-57 over No. 23 Rutgers in a must win game.
The Spartans shot the ball extremely well with a 47.3% field goal percentage and had five players finish in double figures. Jaxson Koehler was on fire with 12 points and was so massive coming off of the bench for the Green and White. Tyson Walker also had 12, Jaden Akins had 11, Joey Hauser had 13, and A.J. Hoggard had 16 points.
Key Michigan State stats of the game
The category that really separated the two squads was their three-pointers. Rutgers only made 2-17 for 12% from beyond the arc. On the other hand, MSU was 12-22 for 55%. The only thing Michigan State struggled at was controlling the boards. Rutgers had 18 offensive rebounds and had 15 second chance points.
Coach Izzo was visibly frustrated at times with the Spartans defense, with Pierre Brooks and a couple other guys struggling at times. I wouldn’t give too much credit to MSU for their defensive performance. They did cause 11 turnovers, but Rutgers was missing a lot of good looks.
Michigan State goes on the road next to face the Hoosiers at their house on Sunday at noon. Indiana has had their up and downs this season, but it’s going to be extremely tough to go in and get a win. That’s why it was so necessary for the Spartans to get the win tonight. Had they lost, it would’ve been three straight and panic time with no Malik Hall. It’s still up in the air when Hall will return, but tonight Michigan State proved they could win without him.
It was very encouraging as well to see freshman center, Jaxson Koehler, have himself a day after being very inconsistent on offense and struggling on defense. At one point, Izzo had Koehler and Carson Cooper in at the same time, which was something I haven’t seen before this season.
It will be very interesting to see how Michigan State handles the heart of the Big Ten schedule, with Indiana and Iowa coming up.