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Malik Hall’s career-high 29 points lead MSU men’s basketball to road win at Penn State

February 14, 2024
Graduate Student forward Malik Hall (25) taking a fadeaway shot attempt during a game against University of Michigan at the Breslin Student Event Center on Jan. 30, 2024.
Graduate Student forward Malik Hall (25) taking a fadeaway shot attempt during a game against University of Michigan at the Breslin Student Event Center on Jan. 30, 2024.

When Malik Hall is playing his best basketball, Michigan State is a tough matchup for just about any team. 

The graduate forward tallied a career-high 29 points against Penn State on Wednesday night, 20 of which came in the second half. Hall finished the game going 10-for-13 from the field, a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, three assists and grabbed ten rebounds. 

Hall was both assertive and dominant in MSU's 80-72 win over the Nittany Lions and was able to get it done in every way possible – consistently bullying his way inside while nailing 15-footers and a three-pointer. 

In MSU's six Big Ten losses this season, Hall averages 9.5 points per game. In the team's eight wins, he averages 18.6 points per game. It's no secret that the Spartans go as he goes. MSU knows, for the most part, what the team will get out of its guards on a nightly basis. Enhanced production from the Spartans' fifth-year forward elevates their play to a different level. 

After starting the year 4-5, Michigan State (16-9 overall, 8-6 in conference) has won 12 of its last 16 games. After a statement win against then-No. 10 Illinois on Saturday, Wednesday night’s triumph in State College, Pa. was a key moment for the Spartans. They boosted their NCAA Tournament résumé and proved they can finally hold a lead on the road in the Big Ten; this win is only the team's second road win this season.

As Carson Cooper notched an unforeseen eight points and Jaden Akins knocked down his first four looks from beyond the arc, MSU led by as much as 17 in the first half. But, the Nittany Lions were resilient and threatened to enter single-digit territory multiple times. This is when Hall took over. Between his 20 second-half points and solid defensive pressure, MSU never entered the danger zone. 

Akins finished with 20 points and continued his strong play as of late. The junior guard is another crucial piece of the puzzle for this year's MSU squad. As is the revolving door at the center position, which did its collective job against Penn State's bigs. Cooper played a big role as he finished in double figures with 10 points. 

Penn State's Nick Kern Jr. scored 14 points and went 6-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep. Guard Ace Baldwin Jr. rebounded from his scoreless night against MSU on Jan. 4 with 15 points Wednesday night.  

All around, it was one of MSU's more complete performances this season. The Spartans are beginning to trend in the right direction at the right time. They'll have the opportunity to complete a season sweep of their in-state rival, the University of Michigan, on Saturday night, followed by home matchups with struggling Iowa and Ohio State. 

Michigan State and Michigan will tip off at 8 p.m. at the Crisler Center on Saturday, Feb. 17. The game will be aired by FOX. 

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