Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Michigan State Spartans got bad news when it was announced Malik Hall would be out a few weeks because of an injury. Suddenly, the expectations went from possibly winning the tournament to 1-2 would be a very reasonable outcome.
MSU took on No.18 Alabama and fell to the Crimson Tide 81-70. Alabama ended up taking down No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday in four overtimes. Freshman forward, Brandon Miller, was absolutely lights out and had 24 points with 9 rebounds. With Malik Hall out there was no one capable to be guarding Miller. Senior guard, Tyson Walker, had 21 points and A.J. Hoggard had 18 points as well.
Then the Spartans took on the struggling Oregon Ducks on Friday at midnight. MSU took down the Ducks 74-70 in a game that the Spartans once again struggled to finish. Senior, Joey Hauser, shot the ball fantastic, going 7-11 from the field. Sophomore, Pierre Brooks, had 15 points and filled in a big way for Hall.
Walker had another 18 points to help Michigan State to the victory. The Spartans also helped For Oregon, Will Richardson, senior guard, had quite the game with 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. Freshman center, Kel’el Ware, was a force as well, with nine boards and 17 points.
Michigan State on Sunday
Finally, on Sunday, Michigan State finished the tournament with a win over Portland 78-77. The Spartans almost won another late game lead to the Pilots in the final minutes. MSU shot the ball extremely well, going 52.5% from the field and 57.1% from beyond the arc.
The Spartans out rebounded Portland 35 to 26 and were a force on the board. Every player on Michigan State’s starting lineup scored double digits. Walker finished the tournament with 16 points and had only one turnover over the three games. Without Walker, I’m not sure the Spartans would’ve won any of these games, and he definitely deserves the tournament team MVP. Brooks shot 5-7 from the field and hit all four of his shots from beyond the arc.
Coach Izzo was very insistent that he needed to be better at coaching his team at the end of games. Villanova, Oregon, and Portland were all struggles for Michigan State to finish. It will be interesting to see if one of these times it will come back to bite them. 2-1 and 5th place in the PKI tournament with Jaden Akins and Malik Hall out is absolutely a win.
No. 20 Michigan State will try to make it three in a row travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame at 9:15 pm ET.