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MSU men's basketball will host Maryland, looks to log winning conference record

February 2, 2024
<p>Graduate Student guard Tyson Walker (2) celebrating a made layup attempt during a game against the University of Michigan at the Breslin Student Events Center on Jan. 30, 2024.</p>

Graduate Student guard Tyson Walker (2) celebrating a made layup attempt during a game against the University of Michigan at the Breslin Student Events Center on Jan. 30, 2024.

Photo by Donté Smith | The State News

After an 81-62 triumph over Michigan at home Tuesday night, the Michigan State men's basketball team will close out its two-game home stand with a rematch against Maryland on Saturday afternoon. 

The Spartans and the Terrapins met back on Jan. 21 in College Park, and despite the tough road environment, the Green and White came out on top 61-59. Both teams sit at 13-8 overall and 5-5 in conference play.

Much like the Maryland team, Michigan State thrives on its home court. At the Breslin Center, the Spartans are 11-2 and the team has not lost a game there in nearly two months since they dropped their Big Ten opener against Wisconsin 70-57 on Dec. 5. Since then, the Spartans have been on a seven-game home win streak. 

In the last game against Maryland, Michigan State started hot, building up a 15-point lead in the process. The second half was a whole different story, and the Terrapins nearly completely took over control of the game. Head coach Tom Izzo said that one of the focuses in practice leading up to the rematch against Maryland is sustaining momentum from the first half to the second half. 

"I thought we had a good practice today," Izzo said. "I asked for a little more sense of urgency. That's kind of the theme of the week. You know, how can we sustain something a little longer? We've had some great halves — including Maryland first half, Michigan second half — we got some great halves, just got to sustain it a little longer."

Guard Jahmir Young continues to be an offensive weapon for the Terrapins, averaging 20.4 points per game, but one of the biggest threats for the Spartans is likely to come at the boards from forward Julian Reese. Reese is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game and the closest Spartan is senior center Mady Sissoko with 6.5 rpg. 

Since the start of the season, the Spartans have struggled to take control of games when they are not controlling the boards, so Sissoko will need more help to finish the game with more rebounds than the Terrapins. 

Sophomore forward Jaxon Kohler could be a good option to help the Spartan’s rebounding woes. After being out with a foot injury to start the season, Kohler has been gradually working his way back onto the court; he adds some much-needed height to an MSU team that can lack some verticality against other Big Ten opponents.

"I think he's come a long way," Izzo said. "I think when you're out two months — nine weeks — you come back and it's a chore and it's different than people think. But, I do see him getting better every day and I think he's been great."

Michigan State and Maryland will face off at the Breslin Center on Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. The game will be available to watch on Fox.

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