Michigan State basketball opened its regular season campaign with a 73-55 win over Northern Arizona.
Turnovers have always been a big issue with Tom Izzo-coached teams. However, that wasn’t a problem on Monday as the Spartans only had nine turnovers against the Lumberjacks (NAU had 12).
“When you only have nine turnovers, you can have 65 shots,” Izzo said after the game. “That’s probably the most (shots) we’ve had in two years.”
Graduate senior forward Joey Hauser was arguably the player of the game on Monday after getting into foul trouble in the exhibition game last Tuesday. Hauser posted 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also shot 50 percent from the field and hit four shots from three-point range.
“I thought Hauser played awfully well on both ends and rebounded pretty well,” Izzo said.
Senior guard Tyson Walker had an off-game shooting wise. Walker made just three of his 11 shot attempts from the field.
“Tyson (Walker), I don’t think will ever miss that many good shots (again),” Izzo said.
Izzo also noted that Walker played “tremendous defensively.”
One of the big stories heading into this game was the health of sophomore guard Jaden Akins. He had foot surgery in September and didn’t play in the exhibition game last Tuesday.
“It’s still going to take Jaden (Akins) a couple of weeks,” Izzo said. “That’s why I wanted to get him a few more minutes (tonight).”
Akins played for 16 minutes in this game, which is the same amount of time as starting junior guard A.J. Hoggard played.
“He wants to do so good so bad,” Izzo said about Akins. “Most of the shots he took were pretty good.”
Akins scored six points and shot 30 percent from the field.
Despite good games by some players, Izzo was critical of the offensive performance by the team.
“We just weren’t as smooth on offense,” Izzo said. “I didn’t think we moved the ball enough.
“I thought offensively, we did not get the ball inside enough,” Izzo continued. “We did not get to the free-throw line”
Sophomore guard Pierre Brooks had a big performance off the bench. He scored 14 points in 17 minutes of playing time.
“If he can rebound and guard somebody, we’re going to be in business with him,” Izzo said regarding Brooks.
Freshman forward/center Jaxon Kohler had a good game coming off the bench. He scored six points and also grabbed nine rebounds.
“Kohler did a nice job getting nine rebounds,” Izzo said. “Jaxon was one of the bright spots tonight.”
Izzo also praised Northern Arizona. Guard Jalen Cone was giving the Spartans trouble all game. Cone scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“That guard we played against, Cone, I mean he’s as good of a guard as we’ll face,” Izzo said.
The Spartans return to the court on Friday against No. 2 Gonzaga and that game will be played on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in San Diego, California.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Izzo said regarding the Gonzaga game. “We’ll have to play a lot better than we did tonight.”
Lupe called and told Izzo that they lost power at home. So he's thrilled to be able to stay at the office and prep for the Armed Forces Classic vs Gonzaga on Friday. pic.twitter.com/inxsNYGtzs— David Harns (@DavidHarns) November 8, 2022
MSU’s game against Gonzaga is set to tip off at 6:30 ET and it will be broadcasted on ESPN.