For just the third time in history, Michigan State and Hillsdale College faced off in an exhibition game at the Breslin Center Wednesday night. The Spartans dominated from start to finish, closing the game with a score of 85-43.
Senior center Mady Sissoko won the tip for the Spartans, and the highly anticipated Michigan State men’s basketball 2023-2024 campaign began.
Graduate student guard Tyson Walker put the first points on the board in the form of two free throws before he sunk a shot from beyond the arc to put the Spartans up 5-0 early.
Defensively, Michigan State excelled at keeping Hillsdale from driving to the net, but a couple of careless fouls gave the Chargers chances to get some points on the board.
Four minutes into the game, the starting five were subbed out in favor of some younger players: sophomore guard Tre Holloman, freshman forward Xavier Booker, sophomore center Carson Cooper, freshman forward Coen Carr and freshman guard Jeremy Fears Jr.
The Izzone went nuts the second they were subbed in, but they went even crazier when Fears Jr. dished a ball over to Booker for a perfect three on his first shot of his Michigan State career.
The underclassmen held down the court until the starters were subbed back in with ten minutes left in the half. They allowed just seven points from the Chargers and left the court with a score of 27-10, but it was not long before they saw the floor once again.
With three minutes left in the first half, Coen Carr did as Coen Carr does. The freshman picked the ball off a Hillsdale player near half-court and made his way down the court, fending off just one defender and slamming down a massive dunk that made the Breslin crowd go nuts.
One minute later, Cooper logged a dunk of his own and another soon after. The sophomore’s dunks, yet again, exhilarated the Breslin crowd and set the tone heading into the locker room up 47-20 to get ready for the second half.
Even up 27 points, the Spartans did not relent when the second half started.
Booker once again found himself on the court in the second half, again displaying his accuracy from three.
Cooper came back on the court at center with seventeen minutes left in the game and showed off his talent. The sophomore was a standout player Wednesday night in a way he has not been yet in his early career. Cooper was up at the boards fighting for rebounds and making shots along the way.
The Chargers tried to speed up the game with the time ticking down, but their endeavor was fruitless. Michigan State had already built a monster lead, and the Spartans were not ready to let their opponents creep back into the game.
With five minutes left in the game, a three from Walker put MSU up 44 points and gave the Breslin Center crowd another thing to cheer about.
Graduate student guard Steven Izzo and sophomore guard Nick Sanders made their way onto the court with two minutes left in the game — much to the enjoyment of the Izzone. With the appearance of Izzo and Sanders in the game, every MSU player made their way onto the court during the 85-43 contest against Hillsdale.
Michigan State will be back in action in the Breslin Center on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. to take on Tennessee in its second and final exhibition game of the season.
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