Michigan State wrapped up the regular season Saturday afternoon with a 84-78 senior day win over Ohio State.
It was yet another offensive showdown for the Spartans. MSU shot 55% from the field and 60% from three, with both the starters and bench players contributing to the scoring.
Junior guard A.J. Hoggard had a strong afternoon guiding the offense, racking up a team-high 23 points and seven assists. He pushed the offense quickly down the court in transition, drove to the basket often and found open teammates throughout.
It wasn’t just one player that showed up for Michigan State on offense, though.
Naturally, senior guard Tyson Walker and graduate student forward Joey Hauser were also key pieces of the offense. Hauser scored 16 points, shooting 6-7 from the field and Walker notched 15.
Sophomore guard Jaden Akins had yet another solid showing, scoring 13 points and notching three rebounds. Senior forward Malik Hall also reached a double-digit point total with 10.
Michigan State’s offense was buzzing from the jump. The Spartans shot 57% from beyond the arc and 56% from the field in the first half. MSU’s scoring came from a collection of players.
Hall scored a team high 10 points, nailing a couple of triples and scoring some points in the paint. Akins kept up his hot streak going in the first half. After a relatively quiet start, he scored a quick nine points in the final four minutes, highlighted by a pair of threes. Hauser also made his mark on the court, shooting 3-3 from the field for seven points and playing stout defense.
While he didn’t score the most points at the half, Hoggard was perhaps the most important piece of the offense . He kept his team quick, moving up and down the court with speed, especially in transition.
The opening minutes were all Michigan State. The Spartans dictated pace of play, with Hoggard running the offense with efficiency he notched a pair of assists and five points less than four minutes into the game.
Everybody was hitting shots. Even freshman guard Tre Holloman, typically relegated to passing and defending, joined the scoring party. His triple at 13:41 gave Michigan State an early 17-4 lead.
Ohio State’s offense slowly churned to life as the half progressed. After a 7-0 near the seven minute mark of the half, the Buckeyes came within four points, but the Spartans just kept answering with buckets. Hoggard kept the offense up-tempo, and MSU wasn’t afraid to play quick, transition-based ball as the first half came to a close.
Ohio State came out of the locker room hot, opening the second with a 6-0 run to bring the game within five points.
Walker stopped that run with a triple and the offenses slowed for a stretch. While the Buckeyes offense notched some tough buckets to keep the game within reach, MSU just kept answering.
A 7-0 run from Ohio State with over five minutes left in the half brought the visitors within three points. Again, it was Walker that answered the Ohio State run, driving to the rim with a tough finish.
It was a tough finish in the final few minutes. The Buckeyes made the Spartans sweat, never letting the home team extend the lead to double-digits. Each time MSU notched what looked to be a dagger of a basket, OSU went right down the court and responded.
Eventually, Ohio State ran out of time. The visitors resorted to fouling in the final minute, and the Spartans made their shots, icing victory.
The Spartans will now look ahead to the Big Ten Tournament next week in Chicago. With the Big Ten standings still not yet settled, they will learn their tournament seeding once the final regular season games have been played throughout the conference.
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