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Steven Izzo notches first career points against Rutgers in 'magical' afternoon at Breslin Center

January 14, 2024
<p>Graduate student guard Steven Izzo (13) driving the ball during a game against Rutgers at the Breslin Student Event Center on Jan. 14, 2024. Izzo successfully drew a foul and completed the and-one by making the lay-up and subsequent free-throw attempt.</p>

Graduate student guard Steven Izzo (13) driving the ball during a game against Rutgers at the Breslin Student Event Center on Jan. 14, 2024. Izzo successfully drew a foul and completed the and-one by making the lay-up and subsequent free-throw attempt.

After five years, it finally happened. 

Michigan State basketball graduate student Steven Izzo, the son of Hall-of-Fame head coach Tom Izzo, logged his first career points during MSU’s 73-55 win over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon. They didn’t come from an easy bucket, either. 

With a between-the-legs crossover and hesitation move, Steven Izzo was able to create just enough space between him and Rutgers starting guard Austin Williams to put up a teardrop floater while being fouled. The shot found a lot of iron, but ultimately, the bottom of the net. 

"'Oh my gosh, that’s going in,'" Steven Izzo said – during a post-game interview – what he was thinking while he shot the ball. "Then it dropped in."

Steven Izzo nailed the free throw to convert the three-point play. The Breslin Center burst at the seams with emotion. 

It was a special moment both for Steven Izzo and his dad and coach, who has made it known that his decision to bring Steven onto the roster as a walk-on in the summer of 2019 was made in order to strengthen their relationship. Moments like what transpired Sunday are what have made that judgment a good one, Tom Izzo said. 

But, for coach Tom Izzo, the basket itself isn’t what made the moment so special. 

"I was most excited that our players and our fans cared so much about him ... they made that more special for me," Tom Izzo said. "It was something I’ll never forget."

Before Sunday, Steven Izzo was 0-for-13 from the field and 0-for-4 from the line. He usually only sees the floor in the final minutes of lopsided contests. Nonetheless, his one minute on the floor against Rutgers was enough to make a lifelong memory. Steven Izzo may be on the "Izzo Scholarship," as Tom Izzo refers to it, but he’s seen the floor in some historic games at the Breslin Center. Now, Jan. 14 against Rutgers will go down in history as The Steven Izzo game.

For Steven Izzo, who grew up around the program, his bucket was a long time coming. 

"It’s always been my dream to play here and put on the jersey," Steven Izzo said in the locker room after his big moment. "Seeing one go in, that was a magical experience and something I’ll never forget."

For about 26 minutes of play, it didn’t look like a game in which Steven Izzo would even see the floor. The Spartans struggled mightily offensively, scoring just 28 points in the first half and falling behind early in the second half by way of unforced errors. 

However, MSU found its groove with 14 minutes remaining, taking a lead off two Malik Hall paint buckets and extending it to double digits with three-pointers from Tyson Walker and Tre Holloman.

From there, the Spartans continued to neutralize Rutgers' half-court offense and stepped on the gas. They eventually opened up to an 18-point lead with just under 10 minutes to play and cruised to a 73-55 triumph.

MSU, now 10-7 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play, has a favorable slate of matchups on the horizon, welcoming Minnesota at home on Thursday night before traveling to College Park to battle the Maryland Terrapins. 

Sunday may not have been the complete performance from his team Tom Izzo has been looking for, but it certainly wasn’t void of exhilaration. The 29-year MSU head coach’s emotion was palpable in his post-game press conference. 

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"Thanks for the memory, Steven," Tom Izzo said. "It's one I'll take to my grave."

Michigan State returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 18, hosting the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Breslin Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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