Michigan State basketball

© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball: 3 quick thoughts from win over Northern Arizona

Michigan State basketball opened the 2022-23 season officially with a win over a pesky Northern Arizona team from the Big Sky.

Michigan State basketball saw a rare unranked opponent in non-conference play on Monday night to kick off the season and Northern Arizona hung around for most of the game although it was a 10-plus-point lead for the Spartans throughout.

AJ Hoggard was in foul trouble all game long so that probably affected the flow of the game a bit, but Michigan State pulled it out in the end, 73-55.

It was a poor shooting night overall and yet the Spartans were able to clamp down on essentially everyone not named Jalen Cone.

Tom Izzo will take this win, but you know he’s going to be honest about the issues (shooting, defending the perimeter) after the game. This was a good shaking-off-the-rust game to start the season with Gonzaga awaiting on Friday night.

Some quick thoughts:

1. Pierre Brooks is a walking bucket

Pierre Brooks missed his first shot of the night and I was worried that might deter him from hunting for his shot throughout the rest of the game but it didn’t.

Brooks made his next four shots, all from 3-point range before finally missing and then finishing the game with a nice putback to finish with 14 points. He can be a problem for opponents coming off the bench. The sophomore can shoot and does not lack confidence. He’s quite the spark off the bench in the scoring column.

2. This team struggles without AJ Hoggard

In the first half, when AJ Hoggard found himself in foul trouble, Northern Arizona was able to hang around. The Michigan State offense just stalled out a bit and the defense at the guard spot wasn’t as strong. Without him on the floor in the first half, it was a 16-16 score.

Fortunately, he only picked up one more foul in the second half and helped Michigan State hang on for an 18-point win, but when he’s not on the floor, the Spartans look a little shaky. He’s that important to this team.

3. Joey Hauser is playing with confidence

Joey Hauser was a different player at the end of last year and it looks like that has carried over into this season. He played with a ton of confidence on Monday night and wasn’t afraid to get his shots up.

There were times a year ago when he was hesitant to even attempt a wide-open three, but he showed none of that against Northern Arizona, making 6-of-12 shots for 18 points and he also grabbed 10 rebounds.

A confident Joey Hauser is going to do big things for this team.

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