The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team took on the Horizon League’s Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
MSU is in the middle of a quick break from Big Ten conference play after a convincing 80-64 win against Penn State on Dec. 11, which catapulted the team up to No. 11 in the latest Associated Press Poll. Meanwhile, Oakland led the Horizon League coming into the game, at 7-3 overall — including a win against Oklahoma State early in the season — and a 2-0 record in conference play.
Tuesday night’s contest between Michigan State and Oakland proved to be more evenly-matched than previously thought, but both teams had some struggles throughout the game. MSU capitalized on several different alley-oop plays to contend with Oakland’s confusing zone defense.
Early on, Oakland kept it close by getting defensive pressure on Michigan State and making key three-point shots. In the second half, the Spartans drove away with the game, outscoring the Golden Grizzlies 46-43, after leading 44-35 at halftime.
Despite Oakland’s best efforts, MSU shot 55 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. The Spartans held Oakland to 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three-point line.
Malik Hall took an elbow to the face in the first half from an Oakland player. He went to the locker room with a cut above his right eye, bleeding. He must have cleared concussion protocol, as he came back for second half warmups and ended up being one of MSU’s biggest point leaders of the night.
Four Michigan State players had more than 13 points, and five players in total scored in double-figures: Max Christie and Marcus Bingham Jr. each had 17 points (Bingham added 12 rebounds and four blocks as well), Gabe Brown had 14 points, Hall had 13 points and Tyson Walker had 10 points (in addition to 10 assists and three steals). Joey Hauser had another rough night in terms of scoring, with only five points. To his credit, he grabbed five rebounds; four on offense and one on defense. He also had four assists and forced a turnover.
Depth was an advantage for the Spartans once again, as MSU had 27 points off of the bench. Surprisingly, Oakland had zero bench points in the game.
Ultimately, Michigan State was victorious, winning by a final score of 90-78. The Spartans have now won five games in a row, and 10 of the last 11 games.
Next up, Michigan State will host Division I opponent High Point in East Lansing on Dec. 29. The 6-6 Panthers will make the trek from central North Carolina to take on the 10-2 Spartans. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network.