EAST LANSING, Mich.- Coming into this season, the highly praised Michigan State basketball was ranked No. 4 in the country. After two tough losses so far in this young season, the Spartans got back to form, downing the Butler Bulldogs by a convincing 74-54 final score.
“I don’t know if there’s a team in the country that could have beat them today with where they were,” Butler head coach Thad Matta said.
The struggles that MSU has dealt with thus far seemed to disappear for most of this game. The three-pointers started to fall, mid-range shots were going down, and the taunting defense stood its ground. When players like Graduate student guard Tyson Walker shoot over 50% from the field, it’s hard to stop the uber-talented Spartans.
“Walker is one of the best guards in the country,” Matta said. “ We just didn’t get the coverage we needed.”
Michigan State started hot and fast, leading it off with a fadeaway jumper by Malik Hall, followed up by a Jaden Akins three. It was only 5-0, but it felt like Michigan State was already in the driver’s seat.
It was Walker yet again who got this team going early, and after saying last week that he wanted Walker to get going early more often, MSU head coach Tom Izzo spoke on Walker doing just that.
“I’m so proud of him for the way he’s handled things,” Izzo said. “Playing good defense, made a couple nice passes tonight. He’s becoming a complete player.”
The defensive presence of Michigan State rippled throughout the arena, with MSU holding Butler to 28% shooting on the night, raking in 42 rebounds as a team along with three blocks, two of those coming from new starter, sophomore center Carson Cooper, who got the nod over senior center Mady Sissoko.
“I was going to switch the whole crew because I just didn’t like the way we were starting,” Izzo said. “We just thought this was the one that didn’t matter the most because [Sissoko and Cooper] are playing 20 minutes a game. We thought…give Cooper a chance. We are not in any way, shape, or form down on Mady either.”
Also contributing to the Michigan State win was senior guard AJ Hoggard, who poured in 14 points after having a disappointing two-point outing against Duke.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Hoggard said. “Got to continue to build on it and go from there.”
After securing a victory on Friday night, Michigan State welcomes Alcorn State to East Lansing for a contest on Sunday, Nov. 19, with tipoff scheduled for 6:00 pm.
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