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Michigan State Men’s Basketball: Spartans ground Toledo Rockets, 81-68

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Toledo v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team was back on the court in the Breslin Center on Saturday night to take on the Toledo Rockets. MSU ran away with this game by a final score of 81 to 68 and improved its record to 7-2 on the season. Meanwhile, Toledo falls to 6-2 on the 2021-2022 campaign.

The Spartans started a little bit slow, but it didn’t take too long for Tom Izzo’s team to get going. After the tip, the Rockets jumped out to a quick 4-0 start thanks to free throws by guard (and Macomb, Michigan native) Ryan Rollins and a jumper by fellow guard RayJ Dennis.

However, forward and team captain Gabe Brown would score four-straight points to answer for the Spartans, followed by a three-pointer by Toledo forward Setric Miller Jr. (who played high school ball in Grand Rapids), which was immediately answered by Brown at the other end, making the score 7-7 at that point.

Toledo would score the next three points, but from that point forward, it was pretty much all Spartans in the first half. Jaden Akins, the freshman guard, and Marcus Bingham Jr., the senior center, each hit three-pointers, and point guard A.J. Hoggard then followed up with a layup. MSU took a 15-10 lead at the under-12-minute media timeout in the first half.

The Spartans went on an 8-2 run during the next four-minute stretch, as Michigan State extended its lead to nine points, 23-12, with less than eight minutes to play in the first half. Bingham converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way, which was followed up by three points from behind the arc by forward Joey Hauser and a fast break layup from Hoggard.

Michigan State really stepped on the gas pedal after that, going on a 12-3 run by the next media timeout with less than four minutes to go before halftime. Freshman guard Max Christie hit a three-point shot, and Brown matched him on the next possession with a three-pointer of his own. Later, it was forward and captain Malik Hall who has also drilled a shot from deep range. MSU’s lead over Toledo ballooned to 20 points, and the score was then 35-15.

A layup from Hoggard, a three-pointer by point guard Tyson Walker and another three-pointer from Akins extended Michigan State’s lead. Toledo would score the final five points of the first half, including a three-pointer from Rollins, and the Spartans took a 43-23 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.

Toledo would attempt to close the gap in the second half, but the Spartans were just too much for the Rockets. Just like in the first half, Toledo opened the second half by scoring the first four points. The Rockets actually went on a 10-4 run the begin the half, and the score was 47-33 in MSU’s favor with less than 16 minutes to play.

Michigan State narrowly controlled the next four-minute stretch of action, scoring nine points to Toledo’s seven points, and taking a 56-40 lead by the under-12-minute media timeout.

Michigan State then led 64-50 at the under-eight-minute media timeout. Toledo kept fighting, though, eventually getting MSU’s lead down to as low as nine points, 64-55, following points from forward JT Shumate, Millner and guard Ra’Heim Moss.

The Spartans responded to the Rockets’ run with a quick 6-0 run, including four points from center Julius Marble and two points from Christie on free throws. MSU’s lead went back up to 15 points at 70-55 at the under-four-minute media timeout.

The teams would continue to trade points for the rest of the contest, but Michigan State would eventually walk away with the 81-68 victory.

Toledo actually outscored Michigan State in the second half 45 to 38, but the massive lead the Spartans built in the first half was too large for the Rockets to overcome. MSU shot 40 percent from the floor, and 46 percent from three-point range, while Toledo shot 35 percent overall, and just 17 percent from deep. Both teams had 12 turnovers, which is an improvement for MSU’s usual performance in that area.

Christie, the freshman, led the Spartans in scoring tonight with 14 points, while adding three rebounds and three assists. Brown had 12 points, while Bingham scored 10 points and grabbed six boards. The guards played well, as Walker scored 11 points with six assists and zero turnovers, Hoggard scored 10 points with four assists and four rebounds, and the freshman, Akins, scored nine points with seven rebounds and three dimes.

Rollins led Toledo with 21 points, and he also had five rebounds. Millner scored 17 points and grabbed six boards, while Dennis chipped in 13 points.

This was also the 650th career win for Izzo, as the Hall of Famer continues to add victories and accolades to his accomplished career.

Michigan State returns to action on Wednesday against Minnesota in Minneapolis.