The Breslin Center has an eerie feel to it without its normal plethora of screaming fans and green and white Izzone pride. But that didn’t stop the No. 13 Michigan State men’s basketball team (2-0) from fighting the Notre Dame Irish (0-1) and claiming that shiny gold 80-70 win at the end of the rainbow.
"What a great day to be a Spartan," head coach Tom Izzo said postgame. "Boy, if they were coming in from football to basketball, this place would’ve been rocking. And saying that, I think we played awfully well."
Izzo said that Notre Dame is a tough team to beat with the number of three-point shooters they have, but his guys were able to hold on defensively and with that he's pleased.
"To be up 28, or 26, or whatever we were up and then find a way to only win by 10, disappointing, but most of the things we did were good. We out-rebounded them, we only had 12 turnovers. Twenty-six assists on 30 baskets, that might be our storyline now," Izzo said.
Expectant eyes were on junior guard Foster Loyer after his victorious debut Wednesday against Eastern Michigan (0-1) where he set his career high of 20 points on 6-for-8 from the field, all beyond the arc.
However, Loyer, holding the title of top scorer, finished the night against Notre Dame with a total of only three points, instead knocking up two rebounds and three assists to catapult redshirt junior guard Joey Hauser into the spotlight.
Hauser busted out of the gate in the starting line up, sinking four points off the bat with the help of Loyer. He continued this streak, sinking six more points to total 10 for the Spartans on 4-for-11 from the field.
"If you talk to him again, would you tell him to work on his three-point shooting because he can't miss those wide open ones (anymore). The day (he) goes 2-for-4 from the line, I think he's one of the best ... I've ever had," Izzo said about Hauser.
Hauser also kept tight hold to the title of top rebounder, tallying a total of 16 by the end of the night.
Rounding out the starting five were junior forward Aaron Henry, redshirt senior guard Joshua Langford and junior forward Thomas Kithier.
Henry and Kithier backed up Hauser and Loyer’s attempts beautifully, laying out another 14 and six points, respectively. Langford added another eight points.
Another top scorer for MSU was freshman forward Marcus Bingham Jr., who came out with a total of seven points, one assist and seven rebounds, going 3-for-8 from the field.
"We've told him he has to mature and ... I think he's starting to figure out what's a good shot and what's not," Izzo said about Bingham Jr.
Sophomore guard Rocket Watts and sophomore forward Malik Hall kept a steady hand in the game, making their appearance midway through the first half and adding an extra 17 points to MSU’s total score.
Freshman forward Gabe Brown also added nine points himself.
Izzo threw the remainder of the lineup in with two minutes left on the clock. This included sophomore guard Steven Izzo, freshman center Mady Sissoko, freshman guard Davis Smith and redshirt freshman guard Jack Hoiberg.
"I know I play a lot of guys and I know it frustrates people, but not me. There's reasons for it," Izzo said.
Only Sissoko scored, adding three points himself.
Notre Dame junior guard Prentiss Hubb led the way for the Fighting Irish — who certainly lived up to their nickname, coming out with a total of 23 points and going 4-for-11 from the arc, 7-for-22 from the field.
Laszewski was backed up by fellow Fighting Irish junior guard Cormac Ryan and junior forward Nate Laszewski, who laid out 13 and 12 points respectively.
Fighting Irish junior guard Dane Goodwin kept his name visible as he too made a come-up midway through the second half, adding an extra 12 points to UND’s final score.
Graduate students Nikola Djogo (guard) and Juwan Durham (forward) also added two and four points respectively.
The Spartans will travel to North Carolina to play the No. 9 Duke Blue Devils (1-0) in their third game of the season Tuesday, Dec. 1. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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