Life on the road is never easy. The Michigan State Spartans went on the road to Maryland and barely survived a late game shooting slump to emerge with a 65-63 victory. The game was tied at 63-all for the final two minutes until Malik Hall drove to the basket and scored to secure the win with just under two seconds to play. A final half-court heave from Maryland failed to draw iron as time expired.
Hall also led the Spartans in scoring with 16 points in just 25 minutes. Joey Hauser and Marcus Bingham Jr. both chipped in 10 points as well as five and six rebound, respectively. Bingham and Hauser each made both of their shot attempts from three-point range as well.
Both Gabe Brown and A.J. Hoggard struggled in College Park. Brown had only five points, and made just one of his seven shot attempts, while hauling in only one rebound. Jaden Akins played more minutes than Brown (24 minutes to 22 minutes) and contributed four points and two rebounds. Hoggard failed to score at all and had only three assists to two turnovers.
Tyson Walker and Max Christie both posted seven points, while Julius Marble chipped in six points. The Spartans shot 41 percent (22-for-54) from the floor and 37 percent (7-for-19) from three-point distance.
Maryland almost overcame a 15-point second half deficit thanks to hot shooting in the second half (12-for-24) and 17 made free throws for the game. But, the home team was never able to take the lead in the second half.
Early in the game, the Spartans led by as many as five points, primarily by getting to the free-throw line. Seven of Michigan State’s first 14 points came from the charity stripe. On the defensive end, however, the Spartans gave up several shots right at the rim and multiple offensive rebounds to the hometown Terrapins.
MSU went through a shooting drought in the middle of the first half, and with 10 minutes to go in the first period, Maryland led the Spartans 17-14. However, a pair of post-baskets from Marble got the Spartans back on top and seemed to settle the team down a bit.
The teams traded baskets and free throws for a few possessions, but the Spartans clamped down on the defensive end and got hot on offense in the final minutes of the half. MSU went on a 10-0 run and held Maryland scoreless for the final 4:50 of the half to take a 35-25 lead at the break. Hall, Brown and Hauser all hit three-pointers in the final four minutes of the first period.
The Spartans were able to limit turnovers in the first period to just three and held the Terrapins to just 36 percent shooting from the field. However, the Spartans gave up six offensive rebounds and were out-rebounded 19-15 overall in the half.
Michigan State started the second half strong, and quickly built a 15-point lead, 42-27 with 17:30 to play. But, Maryland once again started to aggressively attack the rim and went on an 11-point run to cut the lead to 42-38 with 15 minutes remaining.
The Spartans punched back and pushed the lead back to nine points. But Maryland kept fighting as well. The Spartans’ lead fluctuated between four and seven points until the under four-minute timeout, where Maryland cut the lead to just three points, 59-56.
With 2:49 remaining, Maryland’s Fatts Russell hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 61 all. But the Terrapins would only add two free throws for the rest of the game.
Fouls started to mount for the Spartan big men late, as at one point Marble, Bingham, and Hauser all had four fouls. Only Marble fouled out, but Tom Izzo was forced to play a very small lineup with Hall at the center position in the closing minutes.
The Spartans did a better job of rebounding the ball in the second half, but a worse job of taking care of the basketball. Michigan State committed eight second half turnovers, but finished the game at just a one rebound deficit (31-30). The Spartans also did not hit a shot from the field for the final 6:09 of the game until the game-winner from Hall.
But, a win is a win, especially on the road. Michigan State now move to 17-4 overall and 8-2 in conference play, which puts MSU into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with Illinois and Wisconsin. Next up for the Spartans is another East Coast road trip, this time to Piscataway, New Jersey to face Rutgers on Saturday, Feb. 5. The games tips off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on FS1.