Michigan State's men's basketball team took care of business against Alcorn State Sunday night, handling the Braves by a score of 81-49. The win marked MSU's second in three days.
It was a much-needed outing for the Spartans, who put their past shooting struggles behind them, converting on a 52-percent clip from the field and 40 percent from deep. They assisted on 24 of their 30 made shots and were in control on defense, holding Alcorn State to just 26 percent shooting.
MSU graduate student guard Tyson Walker did not play due to illness. He was "sicker than a dog," head coach Tom Izzo said on his pregame radio show.
In Walker's absence, sophomore guard Tre Holloman got the start and seized the opportunity, scoring 17 points on an unforeseen 5-5 shooting night from behind the arc in 26 total minutes – all-team-highs for MSU on Sunday. It was a victory by committee for MSU without Walker, with nine Spartans reaching the scoring column.
Junior guard Jaden Akins was a bright spot, getting MSU's offense flowing in the opening minutes and finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Spartans entered Sunday looking to carry over the momentum from their 20-point win over Butler Friday night. As for the Braves, they visited the Breslin Center fresh off an 80-77 loss to UAB – who had just beat Maryland–in which they held a 16-point advantage early on.
MSU put the game out of reach midway through the first half, suffocating the Braves on defense and taking advantage of its prospects offensively.
It took the Spartans a little over three minutes to find their offensive groove, but when they did, it happened in the blink of an eye. After starting down 5-3, MSU took command and went on a 16-1 run.
Akins scored seven out of MSU's first eight points, hitting a three and scoring twice at the rim. Holloman followed suit by knocking down two straight triples, forcing Alcorn State to call timeout.
Freshmen Jeremy Fears Jr. and Xavier Booker made their presences felt moments later, with Fears going coast-to-coast off a steal and a bank-in three-pointer from Booker.
The Spartans continued to roll on both ends as their lead climbed to 44-16 to conclude the half.
The Braves had more success scoring in the second half, doubling their first-half scoring output less than 10 minutes into the second. Nevertheless, the Spartans' lead was insurmountable.
MSU freshman Coen Carr began the second half doing what Coen Carr does best – igniting the crowd with his freakish athleticism, jamming home an alley-oop via Hoggard, fighting for a bucket inside and sending back an Alcorn State layup attempt.
Carr finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes played.
The final 30 minutes were smooth sailing for the Spartans, allowing Izzo and his staff to experiment with rotations and otherwise examine how certain pieces on this MSU squad fit together.
MSU faces a tough test this coming Thursday, Nov. 23, against the No. 3-ranked Arizona Wildcats in the Acrisure Classic. The Spartans will travel to Palm Springs to battle the Wildcats on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m.
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