Friday, April 19, 2024

MSU men's basketball travels to take on Penn State after complete performance at home

February 14, 2024
<p>MSU Senior Center Mady Sissoko (22) dunks on Georgia Southern Junior Center David Jones (4) at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on Nov. 28, 2023. The Spartans would go on to win 86-55.</p>

MSU Senior Center Mady Sissoko (22) dunks on Georgia Southern Junior Center David Jones (4) at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on Nov. 28, 2023. The Spartans would go on to win 86-55.

Photo by Henry Szymecko | The State News

The Michigan State men’s basketball team put on one of its best performances of the season with an 88-80 victory over then-No. 10 ranked Illinois. The Spartans made a statement on Saturday afternoon, but they need to carry the momentum on the road against Penn State on Wednesday night. 

Against Illinois, the MSU veteran core was performing at a high level and, following the game, head coach Tom Izzo said it was "the most complete game (they've) had."

Senior guard A.J. Hoggard went 12-13 from the free-throw line on Saturday, following the team’s worst free-throw shooting performance of the season against Minnesota. It was a true turnaround for the team at the line, and in close games those trips can make or break a team.  

"I think they're every bit where I thought they were at the beginning of the year," Izzo said.

Regarding Malik Hall's injury and recovery this past off-season, Izzo said he has performed to the best of his ability since coming back and, although weary of his play heading into the season, Hall has had "as good" of performances as possible during the games he has played in. 

Izzo also said that Michigan State's main three guards – Tyson Walker, Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard – have been able to play consistently well this season and are "every bit as good" for the team's overall performances.

The Spartans took the first meeting between the two teams this season in dominating fashion. MSU defeated Penn State 92-61, where graduate student forward Malik Hall tied his career-high 24 points. 

Despite the 31-point victory back in January, the Nittany Lions are on a hot streak right now and have won three of their last four Big Ten matchups after starting the conference season 3-6. 

"(Penn State is) beating and playing with the best teams in the league," Izzo said. "I'm excited to see what we can do, but we need to go on the road and bring the same kind of intensity we did a couple days ago. And if we do, I like our chances. If we don't, I don't like our chances."

In the history between Michigan State and Penn State, there have been 55 meetings where the Nittany Lions have defeated the Spartans just 11 times. However, Penn State now has two standout offensive threats that could be dangerous for MSU on the road: Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin Jr.

Clary has led Penn State all season with an average of 17.1 points per game, but Baldwin Jr. has been the catalyst for the Nittany Lions as of late. In the last four games, Baldwin has been averaging 19.0 points per game and 8.0 assists per game. However, the Spartans snuffed him out the last time the two teams met, allowing just two points from the guard. 

Michigan State and Penn State will meet in State College on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be available to watch on Big Ten Network. 

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