No. 3 Michigan State’s (2-1) answer for No. 12 Seton Hall’s (2-1) All-American Myles Powell on Thursday night? Freshman forward Malik Hall, whose bucket with 28 seconds remaining gave MSU a lead they would not relinquish. His 17 points were the first of his Spartan career, helping lead the Spartans to a hard-fought 76-73 victory.
Powell, who was a game-time decision due to an ankle injury suffered on Saturday, was magnificent all game, scoring a game-high 37. He was stripped by Hall with 5 seconds remaining trailing by one.
The Spartans closed the game on a 10-2 run.
Hall, a native of Aurora, Illinois, did not score in the first half, but was tremendous in the second. He was a perfect 7-7 from the field, including 3-3 from behind the line.
Senior point guard Cassius Winston, playing in his second game since the Saturday death of his younger brother Zachary, was called for two offensive fouls in the first 11:15. He sat for the final nine minutes of the first half before scoring 17 points in the second half, including a three-pointer with 1:02 remaining to give the Spartans a 72-71 lead.
Winston and junior forward Xavier Tillman both picked up their third fouls in the first four minutes of the second half. Winston remained in the game, but Tillman was removed for the first time all game for Hall, sitting until the 11:43 mark.
Tillman was inefficient all game, finishing with four fouls and three points on 1-9 shooting, and he was bothered by the length of Seton Hall’s 7-foot-2 senior center, Romaro Gill. The Jamaican blocked five shots on the night.
The Spartans’ three-point shooting went in waves Thursday night — they hit four of their first six, one of their next 12, then five of their next six.
Sophomore forward Aaron Henry appeared to injure his left ankle late in the first half, but returned to start the second half, finishing with nine points on 3-6 shooting.
After this difficult victory, the Spartans return home to face Charleston Southern on Monday (6:30/BTN).
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