INDIANAPOLIS – You truly have to expect the unexpected when it comes to Michigan State men’s basketball.
The clock read 13:21 left in the game, the score was 42-32, Maryland had the lead and freshman A.J. Hoggard had just made a second-chance layup. The fans that had made the journey from East Lansing to Indianapolis were getting antsy.
That’s when he came in.
Malik Hall stepped onto the court with smoke practically coming out of his ears. After only posting a slow and steady five points in the first half and not proving to have anything special up his sleeve, he decided to go into his bag of tricks during the second half.
It took five minutes, more or less, for him to find the net. Once he did, he didn’t stop, adding 14 more points to MSU’s final score.
It was a layup, then a free throw, to a 3-pointer, back to another driving layup and a dunk all by Hall in the span of two minutes and 30 seconds that kick-started the – attempted – Spartan comeback in the final 10 minutes of play.
Hall is a known face to fans, but one unfamiliar to the scoreboards. Until this morning, that is.
The sophomore forward hit a career-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field.
He hasn’t scored this high since Nov. 14, 2019, against Seton Hall, where he posted 17 points on the road as a freshman. The highest he scored this season, before this morning, was 10 points at home against Penn State in his starter debut.
He was responsible for the last six shots of the game, as well as the last basket scored at 15 seconds to cement their 68-57 loss.
"We definitely lacked a little energy at the end," Hall said. "After about the first ten minutes, their little run at the beginning, we never recovered from it. ... When you first start off and you see the game is kind of tight, you have to learn and see what you can do and what you can't do. I think we struggled making those adjustments after that first ten minutes, and we just couldn't follow the scout that they gave us, that cost us."
"I definitely agree with Aaron [Henry] (in saying the way they lost was the most disappointing thing)," he added. "The style of play was piss-poor after that first ten minutes (in the second half). ... We let it all get to us. We can't do that. A game of basketball, you're just gonna have to keep playing through it. We kind of just put our heads down and didn't keep up."
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