Michigan State overcomes sloppy play to edge Loyola Chicago on Marcus Bingham Jr.'s dunk

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

It's Thanksgiving, so Michigan State was in the mood for plenty of handouts.

Fortunately for the Spartans, they made enough plays in the second half to overcome another rash of turnovers, getting a lob dunk from Marcus Bingham Jr. in the final seconds and a career game from Malik Hall to pull out a 63-61 victory over Loyola Chicago Wednesday in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Michigan State's Marcus Bingham Jr. (30) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning basket against Loyola Chicago in Wednesday's Battle 4 Atlantis game in the Bahamas.

"It's Thanksgiving," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo joked, "and we're givers."

The Spartans (4-1) surely were, losing the ball 20 times, including 14 in the first half. However, they were nearly perfect down the stretch, allowing Hall to pour in a career-high 24 points on 9-for-9 shooting and for Bingham to take the feed from Tyson Walker with roughly three seconds left to win the game.

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 63, Loyola Chicago 61

Bingham scored 11, grabbed nine rebounds and had seven blocks while Hall added seven rebounds and didn't turn the ball over.

"I've never seen a stat line like that," Izzo said of Hall. "Malik played like the player we think he could be.

"And Marcus, as I've said, has been getting better all year and it's something to have a shot blocker."

Bingham was altering shots all game, and his final block allowed Michigan State to put together the final possession, one that was designed for Walker to make the decision with the ball.

"It was a great play by Tyson and Markie went up and got it like a man," Izzo said.

It set off a wild celebration as the final shot for Loyola was well off the mark. Michigan State advances to the semifinals of the tournament on Thursday and will face No. 22 UConn (5-0) at noon. UConn defeated No. 19 Auburn, 115-109, in double overtime on Wednesday.

"Coach has been harping on energy a lot for me," Hall explained, "so I tried to bring much as possible. I think it paid off listening to him. I probably should do it more."

Izzo laughed and did the same when talking about Bingham's surge this year as the 7-footer has been playing the best of his career.

"I really believe that this summer he turned the corner," Izzo said of Bingham. "It was asked when guys turn the corner and he turned the corner this summer because he attacked the weight room. And I know it's not one of the favorite things for a 7-footer to attack and he did it with vengeance. I mean, there were times that I even said, 'Well, that's impressive.'"

Lucas Williamson scored 16 for Loyola (4-1), which was coached by former MSU graduate assistant Drew Valentine.

"This was a big-time college basketball game a fun atmosphere to play in," Valentine said. "This tournament is incredible. But you don't get participation trophies for coming in and losing a game like that. There's no moral victories for us with where this program is at. We've got to find a way to stay positive, stay together and continue to grind and improve."

Things couldn’t have started much better for Michigan State as the Spartans scored the first nine points of the game and had the Ramblers racing on the offensive end. Loyola missed its first seven shots while the Spartans took advantage, leading 17-12 almost 12 minutes into the half after a Hall lob dunk.

But things started to spiral out of control from that point as Michigan State started giving the ball away, missing shots and generally playing out of sync. The Spartans turned the ball over 14 times in the opening half with 11 coming in the final 9:44. Point guard A.J. Hoggard had three in a one-minute span as Loyola started to take control of the game.

A 16-2 run for the Ramblers gave Loyola a 28-19 lead with 1:26 to play before Michigan State scored the final four points of the half, nearly missing a 3-pointer from Max Christie at the buzzer as the Spartans trailed, 28-23, heading into the locker room.

"Our point guards struggled and that's gonna fall on the head coach," Izzo said. "You just can't turn the ball over like we did. I mean I'm not saying we could have won going away, but we could have won the game easier than we did. It's just a shame some of the turnovers."

A slow start to the second half for Michigan State started to turn as Gabe Brown started heating up, hitting three triples and Hall began to impose his will in the lane. A Brown 3-pointer and a Hall three-point play gave Michigan State a 39-37 lead with 11:55 to play, its first lead since the first half.

Loyola pulled back in front with its own three-point play but Michigan State regained the lead on a Hall bucket and maintained the advantage over frantic 10-minute stretch, relenting with four minutes to play on a bucket from Williamson.

Michigan State went back in front, 57-56, on a jumper from Joey Hauser with 3:38 to play before Bingham split a pair of free throws with 2:28 to play. After Loyola tied it, Hall hit a three, but former Oakland guard Braden Norris answered to tie the game at 61.

The Spartans got a stop with a block from Bingham before the winning dunk.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau