Following a much-needed break from its demanding game schedule, Michigan State men’s basketball returned to the Breslin Center on Wednesday night, earning a 67-54 victory over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
MSU’s starting five looked similar to the lineup before the break with junior guard A.J. Hoggard, senior guard Tyson Walker, sophomore guard Jaden Akins, graduate student forward Joey Hauser and junior center Mady Sissoko in the middle.
The green and white started off strong with a standout performance from Sissoko, who collected two blocks, five rebounds and five points within the first four minutes of the half.
Izzo had predicted that the 11-break would be beneficial for Sissoko’s development, and it showed in the first few minutes of the half.
Other offensive contributors were Akins and Hauser, collecting seven and eight points in the first twenty minutes of the game respectively. Hauser went on to notch 16 total points, alongside four rebounds and assists throughout the game.
The green and white’s first half lineups were almost as surprising as MSU’s inability to shut down the 2-10 Oakland Grizzlies in the first half.
At one point, Sissoko and freshman center Carson Cooper were on the floor together.
Junior guard Pierre Brooks failed to appear in the game within the initial 20 minutes. Brooks has been an asset to the team thus far, starting in five games this season.
Graduate student guard Jason Whiten played extensive minutes on Wednesday, totaling 10 in the first half.
Turnovers raised concern for the Spartans, as they picked up 11 compared to Oakland's five.
Despite strong efforts early on, the Spartans began to slow down midway through the half, allowing the Grizzlies to steal the lead. Oakland junior guard Blake Lampman kept MSU on their feet as he notched eight points and four steals in the first half alone.
MSU eventually caught back up, hanging on to their narrow 29-24 lead over the Grizzlies at the half.
Following halftime, the green and white returned eager to show the Oakland Grizzlies what the 7-4 Spartans were capable of. Walker, who was 1-7 from the field in the first, returned with a scoring hunger, netting 10 points in the second half.
Akins continued to bring the heat, as he sank two points from deep in the second half, before getting into foul trouble later on.
Brooks stepped in with just under 16 minutes in the game and went on to play 12 minutes.
Oakland forwards, sophomore Trey Townsend and graduate student Keaton Hervy carried the Grizzlies offensively in the second half, putting up a combined 30 of Oakland's total 54 game points
Off the glass, it was a much more impressive half for MSU as they outrebounded the Grizzlies 19-15 in the half. After making necessary tune ups following the 29-24 halftime score, MSU came back ultimately holding the Grizzlies to a 67-54 final score.
MSU will return to the Breslin Center to host Buffalo on Dec. 30. at 6 p.m. before heading back into conference play against Nebraska on Jan. 3. at 7 p.m.
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