EAST LANSING – Version 1.0 of Michigan State Basketball’s watered down roster showed a lot of hope.
Sometimes a strong bounce. Sometimes accuracy is outside of photography. Mix and match formations. Jaden Akins returns. Contributions from new students.
It all led to a 73-55 season opener win over Northern Arizona on Monday night at the Priceline Center.
Great striker Joey Hauser led the Spartans with 18 points and 10 rebounds after receiving only twice last season. Even late in the downtime, MSU coach Tom Izu went deep 10, scoring both of those players and off the bench on the Lumberjacks, 31-5. MSU also had an advantage of 36-14 in paint points.
Best scenario:AJ Hoggard, Hall Big Ten owner leads the race title
AJ Hoggard scored nine points and eight assists even though he had an error problem. Nine of the regular rotation players got between four and six points. The Spartans outscored the NAU, 46-35, with number one Jackson Koehler grabbing nine points with his six on his MSU debut. Malik Hall scored seven rebounds with five points, while junior Madi Sissoko added six boards.
“I think our bench is understated,” said sophomore Pierre Brooks, who scored 14 points in reserve and hit four three-pointers along with Hauser. “I think we have one of the best benches in the country. And I feel like when we get guys like me, we get guys like Jaden sitting on the bench, or it could be anybody, Jaxon, we can offer the bench scoring. We can make a good defense on the The bench. I think our bench is one of those that they definitely love to look for.”
The Spartans shot 44.6% and went 9-for-27 from a 3-point range while holding the Lumberjacks to 31.7% overall and 8 of 30 from depth.
“I think part of the good rebound was the good defense,” Ezo said. “This leads to a good recovery or at least good recovery chances.”
Galen Conn led NAU with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Liam Lloyd scored 11 points.
Things get more difficult from here. The Spartans head to San Diego on Wednesday, where they will face the No. 2 Gonzaga in the Armed Forces Classic Championship aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Tipoff is 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday (ESPN).
The Spartans came out looking more aggressive than they did in their 73-56 Exhibition win over Division II Grand Valley State. Especially on the boards, with MSU jumping all over the Lumberjacks early to get a 14-5 edge through the first 8:26. That and a stifling defensive effort led to a 21-5 lead as Northern Arizona missed 13 consecutive shots on a single point and their first 11 3-point attempts.
“That was good. In the first five minutes in particular, we were moving the ball really well,” said Hauser. “Malik had some open shots early on, Tyson had some open shots, and I had my first two shots there in the minutes.” The first six or something else. … It kind of slacked off after that.”
The Lumberjacks took the lead when they made the first 3 throws to shoot 8-0 in the inning that reduced it to single digits. But Akins and Hauser fired a left wing player as part of a 10-4 closing game to take a 34-20 lead at the end of the first half.
Hauser searched for his shot a lot and broke the glass for ten points and five rebounds, while Sissoko attacked the boards for six rebounds. The Spartans were 5-for-12 out of a 3-point range, with Hauser and Brooks scoring two points each.
MSU maintained its double-digit lead for the entire second half, extending it all the way to 21.
Akins . test
Ezo said before the match that Akins would play 10 to 15 minutes. The second-year goalkeeper almost hit it halfway through the first half.
Although recently returning from foot surgery in September, Akins played 8:05 in the first half and had six points. This was partly due to a faulty problem for Hoggard, who made four early assists before sitting down in the 11:34 minute of the half.
Akins looked at the speed in the transition and was able to create his shot. Defensively, he looked a little sluggish sideways, but looked quick off the ground for a dead-end shot.
Then came the second half, leaving a 6-foot-4, 190-pounder Izzo for about 6 minutes at the end of which Akins looked exhausted. But Izu got him back for another stretch after a break, and Akins continued to fight for rebounds and loose balls – including hanging in the air attempting a blocked shot but called for a foul, and disrupting the net when he went down to avoid the possibility of stepping on the NAU player below.
Akins played 16 minutes and finished with six points on 3 out of 10 shots with rebounds and a block.
“It’s still going to take two weeks,” Ezzo said. “Don’t take eight weeks off and come back, so that’s why I wanted to get him a few more minutes, because with some of the big games coming up, it’s not like we’re getting any rest or any time to work. … Those 16 minutes were important. And the best part was the drills, those It was an hour and a half and he did most of it, and he never had a problem. So I’m really proud of him and happy for him.”
Next up: Bulldogs
the match: Michigan State (1-0) vs. Gonzaga (0-0), Armed Forces classic.
warning: 6:30 p.m. on Monday; USS Abraham Lincoln, San Diego.
TV/Radio: ESPN. WJR-AM (760).
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