I know you all saw that football game, so let's talk about some basketball!
Starting off tonight for the Michigan State Spartans, Joey Hauser was not listed in the starting lineup due to a minor calf injury. Malik Hall filled Hauser’s starting spot and did not disappoint. I noticed multiple times throughout the game that he was directing traffic on set plays and taking control of his teammates. With Hall being named a team captain this season, those are the things I have been hoping to see out of him, and am hoping that he continues to do so as the schedule eventually gets into conference play. Although he fouled out tonight, I think the things that he did right by being a leader on the court outweigh the fouls. Obviously, if that becomes a trend with Hall that will be something that drags the team down, but I don't see it being a long term issue. Hall finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds.
The star player for me tonight, and over the past couple games, has been Marcus Bingham Jr. His growth over his time here at MSU has been exciting, and this year he has really stepped up and shown himself off as a strong player. Ending the game with a career-high 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, Bingham is mirroring Hall with filling a leadership role on this team. I’ve always been a member of the Marcus Bingham fan club and it seems like this year it may really pay off.
Tyson Walker has been solidifying himself a starting spot over these last few games, but tonight he found himself in a bit of foul trouble. With a little scuffle in the first half, Walker did not see much of the court in the second half and AJ Hoggard filled his spot for most of the game. I thought Hoggard played well and it is a positive to see that those two can both work to fill the point guard role on the court. Combined tonight, Walker and Hoggard had 11 assists.
Max Christie had some impressive looks as usual. His growth is going to be such a fun journey to follow, and I am loving his confidence as a true freshman. It seems to me that head coach Tom Izzo trusts him out on the court and he seems to continue to meet those expectations. Ending the game with 13 points and a having spent 33 minutes out on the court, Christie continues to impress me.
Overall I thought the team connected well out on the court. Turnovers have already begun to plague this team, as has been a trend with Michigan State teams in past years, but tonight, the Spartans kept their turnovers relatively low at only 10. With this win, MSU has boosted its streak to three wins in a row and I am excited to see the Spartans play next in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament against Loyola Chicago. If only we could all head to the Bahamas with them!