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Michigan State Spartans escape Loyola Chicago in down to the wire 63-61 victory

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Chicago at Michigan State Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans overcame 20 turnovers to escape game one of the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 63-61 victory over Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers had a slow start, but kept it tight through the second half. MSU advances and will take on on the winner of the UConn-Auburn game tomorrow afternoon.

Malik Hall had a monster performance, leading the team in scoring with 24 points, including a perfect 9-of-9 effort from the field. Hall’s 24 points is a career high, besting his previous high of 19 against Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament last season. Hall was second on the team on the glass with seven boards as well.

Marcus Bingham Jr. also had a big day, falling just shy of a double-double and almost flirting with a triple-double, really. Bingham was second on the team in scoring with 11 points, while he added nine rebounds, seven blocks and two steals. Oh yeah, and he had the game clinching alley-oop dunk from Tyson Walker with just 0:04 left in the game to hand MSU the win.

Michigan State had 14 turnovers in the first half alone. After jumping out to a 9-0 lead when Malik Hall made two free throw attempts, Loyola finally got on the board with a layup by Ryan Schwieger at the 13:32 mark. The Ramblers were able to power back into it over the remainder of the first half thanks in large part because of the turnovers by the Spartans.

The sloppy play was an all-around affair in the first half, as AJ Hoggard committed four turnovers, while Max Christie and Walker each had three. The Spartans also had awful shooting in the first half, going 10-of-27 from the field, including just 1-of-7 from deep. Thanks in part to the turnovers and in part to the poor shooting, MSU headed into the locker room trailing narrowly 28-23.

The Spartans struggled early in the second half, trailing by as much as nine in the first minute of gameplay, but were able to claw out of the deficit to finally retake the lead momentarily with 12:55 to go thanks to a layup by Hall that also allowed him to stretch it further with an and-one free throw thanks to drawing a foul against Keith Clemons of Loyola.

The game was back and forth for the remainder of the second half with neither team able to stretch a lead out further than four points. MSU was able to eke out the victory, however. As for Loyola, Luca Williamson led the Ramblers in scoring with 16 points, but no other players managed to break into double-figures.

As mentioned above, Michigan State is back in action tomorrow again at noon (Eastern Time) against the winner of the UConn versus Auburn game. The game will air on ESPN.