Welcome home: Led by Malik Hall, Michigan State basketball downs Louisville, 73-64
East Lansing — Michigan State was back home for the first time in almost two weeks, and after a slow start, the Spartans gave the Breslin Center crowd plenty to cheer about.
Malik Hall scored 15 points and was a perfect 3-for-3 on 3-pointers as No. 22 Michigan State put together a decisive run early in the second half to pull away for a 73-64 victory over Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Max Christie scored 11 points while Gabe Brown and Jaden Akins each scored 10 for Michigan State (6-2). Marcus Bingham Jr. scored nine, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots as Michigan State improved to 9-12 overall in the history of the Challenge. Tyson Walker added 10 assists for the Spartans.
All of it helped Michigan State overcome 19 turnovers, including 10 in the second half.
"We did a lot of good things," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "But the turnovers are just something I’m gonna keep working on. We got some things done, but it was a struggle in doing them. But some of that was them. They're a good defensive team.
"Happy where we are as far as our record, but not happy where we are as far as our play."
El Ellis scored 22 points for Louisville (5-2), including 18 in the second half, while Dre Davis scored 15 points and Malik Williams added 10 for the Cardinals.
It was a slow start offensively as Michigan State made only one of its first six shots.
But it wasn’t long before Brown got going to spark the offense. First, it was a dunk down the lane then the senior added a pair of 3-pointers which sandwiched one from Akins to give the Spartans a 19-15 lead.
The Cardinals responded quickly to tie the game at 19 then took a 22-21 lead on a 3-pointer from Jarrod West. The Spartans took control at that point, stringing together the next nine points as they hit three straight 3-pointers from Hall, Max Christie and Pierre Brooks II to take a 30-22 lead.
Louisville trimmed the Michigan State lead to four late in the half, but Bingham scored the final four points of the half as the Spartans took a 36-28 lead to the locker room.
Michigan State started the second half slowly, much like it did the first, missing four of its first five shots as Louisville took advantage, trimming the deficit to 39-37.
The Spartans responded, however, as A.J. Hoggard got things going with a three-point play. He then found Akins in the corner for a 3-pointer and did the same with Hall as Michigan State put together a 13-2 run to push the lead to 52-39 with 12:14 to play. Another Hall three and a lob dunk to Bingham had the crowd on its feet as Michigan State extended its advantage to 57-41.
Two free throws from Walker put Michigan State ahead by 18 and capped a 20-4 run over four minutes that seemed to put the game out of reach.
"There was some good basketball that happened at that point in the game," Hall said. "I think we had that many turnovers in that stretch. We held some of their key scorers, they weren't really getting anything. ... When we get like that, we play some good basketball."
Louisville made a late push as Ellis scored 11 points in a row for the Cardinals, including hitting three 3-pointers as the deficit was cut to 67-56 with less than four minutes to play. But a pair of free throws from Christie and some solid defense put the game away.
In addition to Hall's perfect game from 3-point range, the Spartans were 10-for-18 for the game. Akins made both of his attempts while Brown was 2-for-5. Christie hit his only attempt while Brooks and Hoggard were both 1-for-2.
"Honestly, part of it for myself being on that trip, I didn’t get as much time in the gym," Hall said of Michigan State's three games last week in the Bahamas. "So being able to work on my shot and being back and in our routine helped a lot with the shooting aspect for the game."