Michigan State rolls in home opener, 90-46, over Western Michigan
East Lansing — It took a few minutes, perhaps to shake off the cobwebs from Tuesday’s loss to No. 3 Kansas in the Champions Classic. But before long Michigan State was rolling in its home opener Friday night against Western Michigan at the Breslin Center.
After some early turnover issues, the Spartans started to find an offensive flow, clamped down on defense and cruised to a 90-46 victory over the Broncos.
Gabe Brown scored 17 points to lead Michigan State (1-1) with 11 coming in the second half. Marcus Bingham Jr. and Joey Hauser each added 12 points while Hauser also pulled down 12 rebounds for the Spartans, who had 11 players score.
“I thought it was a weird game,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I think they hit four threes in the first five or six minutes and I think we had four turnovers in the first five or six minutes. Then we really cranked it up defensively and got our running game going.”
The point guards were at the heart of the turnaround as A.J. Hoggard continued to aggressively take the ball to the basket and Tyson Walker looked far more comfortable, seeking his shot more often while also setting up his teammates.
Walker scored nine points, hitting his first 3-pointer of the season while handing out five assists. Hoggard was solid again, too, following up his 17-point performance against Kansas with seven points and seven assists.
“We’re definitely having fun in transition,” Hoggard said. “That’s our initial offense. When we get out and run and get our wings running, you want to get them easy baskets, get everybody easy baskets and just running have fun. Let’s go play.”
Michigan State (1-1) scored 25 points in transition, assisting on 19 of its 34 baskets.
“Honestly, both are interchangeable,” Hauser said of the point guard tandem. “It’s good to have two point guards that can push the ball, get guys shots and score themselves. Both do a really good job pushing the ball.”
As the offense started to click, the Spartans were outstanding defensively. Western Michigan made four of its first nine from 3-point range but missed its next 18 before finishing the game 5-for-28. The Broncos shot 18-for-68 overall, 26.5%. The Spartans also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Broncos, 58-28.
Mack Smith scored 13 to lead Western Michigan (1-1) while Markeese Hastings scored 12 for the Broncos.
“Coach harped on us the last game about us not checking very well,” Brown said. “So this game we wanted to come out and check like how it supposed to be done, and we did that.”
It was a bit of a shaky start for Michigan State as Western Michigan hit three straight 3-pointers in the middle of an early 10-2 run to take a 15-9 lead.
It was all Michigan State from there.
The Spartans scored the next nine points as they put together a 21-4 surge to take control of the game. After building a 39-25 lead with 2:47 to play, Michigan State held Western Michigan scoreless the rest of the half and took a 46-25 lead into the locker room after a step-back 3-pointer from Walker in the final seconds.
It was a Michigan State flurry to open the second half as Hoggard go things on track, scoring in transition on a feed from Jaden Akins, returning the favor to Akins on the next possession, then feeding Bingham for a dunk. A Walker layup capped a 12-0 run for Michigan State and a 24-6 open to the second half as the Spartans amassed a 70-31 lead.
After a Western Michigan bucket ended the drought, Michigan State scored the next nine then rattled off another 21-4 run, eventually pushing the lead to 48 when Akins scored off an offensive rebound to give the Spartans an 84-36 advantage with 4:33 left in the game.
The Spartans improved significantly at the free-throw line, going 18-for-24, while the turnovers improved with just five in the second half to finish with 13.
Michigan State now gets a few days off to prepare for Wednesday’s trip to Butler for the Gavitt Games matchup with the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“Lot of positives tonight,” Izzo said.