After a slow start, No. 13 Michigan State basketball (1-0) downed Eastern Michigan (0-1) 83-67 in the fan-less Breslin Center Wednesday night — no fans, no Izzone, and virtually no noise aside from what was pumped in.
FINAL: MSU 83, EMU 67, MSU rolls over EMU in Foster Loyer's coming out party
"We don't have any fans, so we don't have anybody trying to get us going," redshirt senior guard Joshua Langford said postgame. "So we have to get ourselves going, but I think that's not difficult for our team or for any Michigan state team because of our culture."
Junior guard Foster Loyer, after his contentious start at the point, went 5-for-7 from three in the first half to lead all scorers with 17 points. He went to finish with a career high of 20 on 6-of-8 from the field, all of which came from beyond the arc.
He combatted EMU's zone, a scheme typically troublesome for MSU, well with his outside shooting.
"That zone is hard to go against," head coach Tom Izzo said. "If he doesn't make those shots, we probably really struggle. So that kind of opened some things up and got some other guys going."
The second-leading scorers in the half for MSU were Langford, who also made an eye-catching appearance in the starting lineup, and junior forward Gabe Brown, as each scored six. They finished with 10 and 12 points, respectively.
Junior forward Aaron Henry, redshirt junior Joey Hauser, and junior forward Thomas Kithier rounded out the starting five.
Eastern Michigan guard Yeikson Montero led the way for the Eagles with eight in the first, finishing with 16 overall.
Sophomore guard Rocket Watts, who some believed would start at the point, went scoreless on 0-of-2 in a very conservative first half showing. He found his first points in the second half, finishing with two points and three assists on the night.
Henry took charge after a scoreless opening two minutes, driving down the lane for two and dishing to Hauser on the next possession for an early 4-0 lead. He led the way with 7 assists.
Hauser, after just two baskets on three attempts in the first, scored eight consecutive points down the stretch for MSU in the second. The Marquette transfer finished with 15 as MSU’s second-leading scorer and recorded seven boards. He looked increasingly poised as the minutes went on. Like Langford, these too were his first live minutes since the 2019-20 season.
"I love the way Joey (Hauser) bounced back second half," Izzo said. "He probably had an average game and he was one rebound from having a double double... I think Joey was sucking up to the head coach. He threw me two passes on the bench...
"But in all fairness and honesty, I was pleased by how he and Josh (Langford) played concerning a time off they'd had."
EMU guard Miles Gibson hit a three and capped off a 9-0 run to give the Eagles a 19-17 lead with 8:50 to play in the first. Then, MSU responded with a run of its own.
Sophomore forward Malik Hall broke the drought for the Spartans with a layup, sparking a 23-8 run to end the first. Junior forward Gabe Brown hit a three with seconds remaining, and MSU entered the half leading 43-27.
Junior forward Marcus Bingham Jr. looked steady at center, as the position was a major question mark entering the night for MSU. He went 2-for-3 for six points with two blocks and three assists and held his own on the defensive end after apparently putting on some muscle in the offseason.
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Langford initiated the scoring in the second half, finishing a contested layup for a 45-27 lead. Loyer carried his hot hand into the latter 20 minutes, hitting his first from beyond the arc.
Brown added two consecutive threes late to finish with 12 points.
Sophomore forward Julius Marble failed to see the floor in the first, but recorded sparing minutes in the second. The Dallas native finished with two points; fellow forward and touted freshman Mady Sissoko went scoreless, as he also saw limited minutes.
The Spartans will host Notre Dame in their second game of the season on Saturday.