Saturday, December 4, 2021

Bell named tournament MVP

November 27, 2000
Senior forward David Thomas (11) shoots the ball during MSU —

MSU head coach Tom Izzo criticized his team for a lack of effort after an 89-56 win against Cornell in Friday’s first round of the Coca-Cola Spartan Classic.

Senior guard Charlie Bell heard Izzo loud and clear.

On Saturday, Bell, who had a game-high 31 points - on a scorching 12-of-13 shooting from the field - led the No. 4 Spartans to an 83-61 victory over unranked Eastern Washington in the championship game at Breslin Student Events Center.

Bell said he didn’t know why he shot the ball so well.

“I think it was just one of those nights where you just throw anything up and it goes in,” he said. “You never know when you are going to have those types of games so you have to play hard every night.”

Izzo said he was pleased with not only Bell’s recognition as the tournament’s MVP, but also his versatility on both sides of the ball.

“You have to give Charlie Bell a lot of credit, not just because he was the MVP,” Izzo said. “He’s doing things on both ends of the court and there are few players that can do that.”

Sophomore guard Jason Richardson had 16 points and senior forward Andre Hutson added 11 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s win to earn both players all-tournament team honors. Eastern Washington forward Kareem Hunter had a team-high 14 points for the Eagles.

Hutson, who is now seven points away from becoming the 30th player in MSU history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, said he wasn’t surprised his teammates earned honors.

“We have so many talented players on this team,” Hutson said. “Different situations are going to occur on different nights. Both Charlie and Jason were tremendous tonight.”

After the Eagles got off to a 4-0 start in the first minute of play, Richardson was able to tie the game at 6 with 17:24 remaining in the first half. The Saginaw native caught a lob pass from Bell in transition for an alley-oop dunk.

MSU never trailed again, getting its largest lead in the first half after two Hutson free throws to make it 38-22 with 2:34 remaining.

MSU shot 73.9 percent from the field in the first half off 17-of-23 shooting, compared to the Eagles’ 43.5 percent off 10-of-23 shooting.

Eastern Washington head coach Ray Giacoletti said he was a little surprised at MSU’s marksmanship from the field.

“I don’t think I have ever seen as many big, athletic kids shoot the ball so well,” Giacoletti said. “It wasn’t just Charlie Bell, it seemed like everyone coming off screens could shoot.”

Committing only five turnovers during the game against Cornell on Friday, MSU already had nine at halftime in Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington. The Spartans led at the half 45-31, behind Bell’s 19 points.

Izzo said Eastern Washington deserves credit for defending against MSU.

“They really put a lot of pressure on us and we really didn’t handle it very well,” he said of MSU’s 19 turnovers in the game. “We really have to work now because those types of mistakes will kill you against top five teams.”

The Spartans got off to a quick 7-2 run in the second half, leading 53-33 with 16:06 remaining after a Bell three-pointer. Bell connected on all three of his attempts from long range in the game.

The Eagles’ woes continued in the second half, shooting 37.5 percent off 12-of-32 shooting from the field.

The win marked the third straight game this season MSU has outrebounded its opponent, getting a 36-19 edge over Eastern Washington. MSU also outrebounded Cornell 47-26 Friday.

MSU’s next game is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against No. 7 North Carolina at Breslin.

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