Michigan State men’s basketball continued its preparation for the regular season as the Spartans hosted Grand Valley State in an exhibition game on Tuesday night.
Tom Izzo’s team struggled in the first half as Michigan State trailed 36-31 heading into the locker room for halftime. The Spartans were out-rebounded 18-14 in the opening 20 minutes. Grand Valley State also had eight more shots than Michigan State and made 52 percent of its shots in the opening half.
“I felt very disappointed in our energy in the first half,” Izzo said.
While Izzo didn’t like the team’s overall effort, he also noted that true freshmen guard Tre Holloman and forward/center Jaxon Kohler “brought some energy.”
Michigan State took control of the game in the second half. The Spartans outscored Grand Valley State 42-20 in the final 20 minutes of play to win the game by a final score of 73-56.
“We rebounded and played much better defense in the second half,” Izzo said.
Senior forward Malik Hall led the Spartans with 15 points. Junior center Mady Sissoko made all four of his shot attempts from the field, posting 11 points and six rebounds. Sissoko’s six boards led the team. Junior point guard A.J. Hoggard also shot well. He posted 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“Players play. Tough players win,” Izzo said. “We had more talent than Grand Valley. They played tougher than us.”
Grand Valley State played the Spartans pretty close, especially in the first half. That begs the question if Michigan State was unprepared heading into the exhibition game.
“I don’t feel like we were prepared,” Kohler said. “We’ll keep taking preparation and film more seriously.”
Izzo also talked about his coaching staff’s performance in preparation for the game.
“I didn’t think we did a very good job as a coaching staff,” Izzo said. “You kind of want to get an idea. You want to get a feel. Is it going to be a player-led team or is it going to have to be a coach-led team?”
Hall is expected to be one of the leaders on the team.
“I think we did fail,” Hall said regarding the team being player-led. “I think we definitely need to do a better job as players moving forward.”
Getting off to a slow start is concerning, considering the tough road ahead in the non-conference schedule for the Spartans.
“I feel like it was good for us to have this game,” Kohler said. “They played hard and in the first half, I don’t think we were ready for that.
“All these teams that we are going to play in the future are going to play really hard,” Kohler said. “Not only do they play hard, but they are going to play very smart.”
Senior guard Tyson Walker went down with an injury late in the first half after a fast break. Izzo confirmed in his press conference that it was a cramp.
Michigan State will open its regular season campaign on Monday, Nov. 7 against Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.