The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team has moved to 2-0 all-time in the Gavitt Tipoff Game. The Spartans defeated the Butler Bulldogs by a final score of 73 to 52 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Michigan State moves to 2-1 on the 2021-2022 season, while Butler gets its first loss of the year and falls to 3-1. MSU also got the Big Ten its first win in this season’s Gavitt Games, as the conference was 0-4 prior to the game.
Michigan State got off to a fast start, jumping out to an 11-5 lead at the first media timeout with under 16 minutes to play in the first half. Four of the five starters for the Spartans — Marcus Bingham Jr., Gabe Brown, Tyson Walker and Max Christie — all got into the scoring action in the opening run.
By the next media timeout with under 12 minutes to play in the first half, Michigan State extended its lead to 20-8. After Butler’s Ty Groce hit a three-pointer, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run, thanks to a three-pointer from Christie, a bucket from Julius Marble and free throws from Brown. After play resumed, MSU extended the run to 9-0 with another basket from Christie before Butler’s Jair Bolden hit a three-pointer to finally get the Bulldogs back on the board, making the score 22-11 at that point.
After that, both teams had scoring droughts. Butler went well over four minutes before getting its next basket, while Michigan State went nearly six minutes before getting points on a pair of Marble free throws. At the under-four-minute timeout, MSU had a 10-point lead at 26-16.
Prior to the break, Brown scored a layup and drew a foul. He completed the and-one play once play resumed, and extended Michigan State’s lead to 11. Butler’s Chuck Harris then hit a three-pointer, which was immediately answered back by MSU’s Malik Hall.
At halftime, Michigan State had a slight advantage with a 31-23 lead. The first half was sloppy for both teams. Michigan State shot 42.3 percent from the floor, but made just three shots from three-point range on 16 attempts (18.8 percent). Butler shot a putrid 25.8 percent from the field overall, and made just five three-pointers on 16 attempts from deep (31.3 percent). Both teams had nine turnovers and 17 total rebounds. Michigan State had seven fouls compared to Butler’s 10 fouls.
Michigan State started out hot in the second half. The Spartans outscored the Bulldogs 11-5 in the first four minutes of the half, and jumped out to a 14-point lead at 42-28 at the first break.
There was no scoring for the next couple minutes of gameplay before Christie made a driving layup and Harris immediately answered with step-back jumper. Bingham would later convert on an and-one play, and the Spartans’ lead grew to 17 points at the under-12-minute timeout, as the score was 47-30 at that point.
The Spartans would continue to dominate as the second half went on. With 3:48 to play, Michigan State’s lead ballooned to 20 points, 64-44, following a dunk from Bingham and a three-pointer from Hall. Butler then put together a mini 6-0 run with back-to-back three-pointers, but Michigan State answered right back with a 6-0 run of its own, making the score 70-51 with 1:29 left to play
The score eventually reached 73-51 in Michigan State’s favor before going final. Brown led the Spartans with 19 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Christie, the freshman, set a new career-high with 18 points. Bingham had 10 points, six rebounds and a ridiculous six blocks. Hall added eight points and four rebounds.
Point guards Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard only combined for five points (including zero from Hoggard), but did combine for nine assists and five rebounds. Meanwhile for Butler, Groce, an Eastern Michigan transfer, led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points, while Harris chipped in 13 points.
Overall, it wasn’t the prettiest game for Michigan State, but it was a solid road win. Turnovers were still an issue, as MSU gave the ball away 20 times compared to Butler’s 14. The Spartans shot 23-for-49 from the field overall (47 percent), while the Bulldogs shot 16-for-56 (just 29 percent). Both teams struggled from three-point range, as MSU made just eight shots from behind the arc on 24 attempts (33 percent) and Butler converted just nine times on 30 tries from deep range.
Michigan State will return to the Breslin Center on Saturday to take on in-state opponent Eastern Michigan at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.