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Michigan State basketball: The great, good, bad, and ugly from Michigan win

It wasn’t a pretty win, but Tom Izzo will take it.



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball extended its win streak to six in a row against rival Michigan, in what Tom Izzo described as a “memory-making day.”

While not pretty at times, Michigan State basketball sent the Wolverines back to Ann Arbor with a loss, improving the Spartans’ record to 11-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

With both teams struggling offensively, it became apparent that the first team to 60 would come away with the win. After being tied up at 14 with 4:39 remaining in the first half, MSU finished the half on a 15-6 run, allowing it to go into the locker room with some breathing room. That’s not to say Michigan didn’t make adjustments and apply some pressure in the second half. The Wolverines brought the score to within four with just over 3:30 remaining in the game. Powered by guard play, the Spartans held off the late surge from the Wolverines, moving into a tie for first place in the Big Ten.

As Tom Izzo stated in his post-game presser, “Typical Big Ten game. That was a slugfest.”

Here are the great, good, bad, and ugly from Michigan State’s victory Saturday afternoon against Michigan.

Great: Defense

As mentioned, Saturday’s game was an absolute rock fight. With a final of 59-53, both Michigan and Michigan State were held well below their season averages in points; Michigan averaged 74.9 points per game, and Michigan State averaged 70.4.

Both teams played fantastic defense, but it was the Spartans who applied more pressure.

MSU held Michigan to just 34.5 percent from the field and an abysmal 15 percent from three. While Michigan did a good job at getting to the line, it seemed at times this was the only way they could score, thanks to the shooting difficulties the Spartans’ defense created for them. MSU eliminated the Wolverines bench from contributing, and outside Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin, did a great job limiting their offense as a whole.

Good: A.J. Hoggard

Overlooking the stretch of games in which A.J. Hoggard was relegated to the bench, this team has been driven by the junior point guard. Saturday afternoon against Michigan was no exception. A.J. tied Malik Hall for the team high in scoring with 15, while also sporting a 6-2 assist-to-turnover ratio. When the shots were simply not falling, A.J. turned to the transition game, leading to 10 points in just the first half. The Spartans played through Hoggard, offensively, defensively, and everything in-between.

Not only did Hoggard provide a bucket or a defensive stop when needed, but he also had the energy and attitude that is needed when playing your in-state rival. Playing a total of 31 minutes, Hoggard never missed a chance to let the Wolverines know whose house they were in.

This team will go as far as Hoggard’s talent and attitude will take them.

Bad: Ball movement and offensive efficiency

It has been vastly stated that both teams had a difficult time offensively. For Michigan State, they found themselves up 14 with eight minutes remaining and seemly began to take their foot off the pedal. Their ball movement became non-existent and open shots became hard to come by. This opened the door for Michigan.

The Wolverines rattled off a 15-5 run over the next five minutes, and Michigan State was forced to clamp down once again. A few days after putting on an absolute clinic on ball movement and shooting against Nebraska, the Spartans seemed to do quite the opposite for most of this game.

Thankfully, Michigan State’s free throw shooting was above average (84.6 percent) as they were able to close the game out by capitalizing at the charity stripe.

Ugly: Joey Hauser

While it isn’t fair to single out one player, especially based on just one performance, Joey Hauser had an extremely off day against Michigan. Shooting 1-7 from three, and just 3-13 from the field total, there were times that it felt like Joey was shooting the Spartans out of the game. The Wolverines were forced to respect his shot, which opened up the court at times, but many of his missed 3-point attempts were rebounded by Michigan and immediately taken the other way.

For elite shooters like Joey, you are bound to run into off-games such as this. In a rock fight like the one Michigan State basketball found itself in on Saturday afternoon, having Joey’s 3-point shooting changed the game completely.

While this is now back-to-back games in which Hauser has been somewhat off, let’s hope this small slump is just that.


Has Michigan State basketball had the “perfect” offseason so far?

The MSU basketball offseason has felt so much better than football’s.



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Unlike the football program so far, Michigan State basketball has had an impressive, almost perfect offseason.

Anything is possible in today’s college basketball world. We have seen some crazy things with the one-time transfer rule and NIL in full effect. Star players like Hunter Dickinson are transferring to powerhouse programs like Kansas and some players are leaving the schools they love just to chase money. We are even seeing incoming freshman reopening their recruitments in June.

I’ll say it again, anything is possible in college basketball today. It seems nearly impossible for a program to have a perfect offseason nowadays. Whether they want their players to stay or they need to get a high-profile transfer to join their team, no program gets everything they want. However, I would argue that Michigan State basketball has had the perfect offseason, or as close to it as reasonably possible.

No key players transferring to new programs

As I mentioned before, star players in a great positions at their programs are still deciding to transfer. Almost every program has someone significant decide to leave the program. Thankfully for Michigan State, that did not happen this season.

Pierre Brooks is the only player to transfer to a new program when he decided to take his talents to Butler. I never like seeing players leave the program, but I think everyone saw this coming. Brooks would have struggled to make the rotation again this year, so it makes sense for him to find a better fit somewhere else.

The transfer portal can be a scary thing, but the Spartans survived it this year.

Players deciding early to return

Whether it be deciding to enter the transfer portal or go pro, some athletes take a long time to make their final decision. Michigan State, on the other hand, got a lot of good news early this offseason. Both Malik Hall and Tyson Walker announced they were returning to Michigan State early on in the offseason.

Both could have attempted to go the pro route. However, both didn’t even tempt those waters. Arguably Michigan State’s best player and this past season’s sixth man are coming back for another year and that’s massive.

Players withdrawing from the NBA draft

Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard both entered their name into the NBA Draft. I thought it was possible for Akins to keep his name in the draft, but nobody ever knows what a player will decide to do. All it takes is one team to promise they will draft them and that player could be gone. Thankfully for Michigan State, that did not happen to either player. Both Akins and Hoggard announced their return to Michigan State on May 31 much to all Spartan fans’ delight.

Incoming freshmen class

To round out the perfect offseason, Michigan State’s elite freshmen class has stayed intact. This class is No. 5 in the country and is bringing in four players who can contribute from day one.

Once players sign, usually that means the drama is over. That, however, is not the case anymore. A decent amount of players have asked to be released from their commitments to their program, including one top player who decommitted from Kansas on June 3. With all of Michigan State’s returning production, this could have been possible for one of our incoming freshmen. Thankfully again, this did not occur to the Spartans, and the class has remained committed.

The one negative you could argue

There is one negative thing you could argue that happened to Michigan State this offseason. That is Joey Hauser deciding to go pro and not return to Michigan State basketball for a final season.

Like Brooks, I think most expected this, but I can’t deny how amazing it would have been to have him back again next year. However, who knows what could have happened if he did return. Maybe another player decides to transfer because there aren’t enough minutes to go around. Maybe an incoming freshman decides he’d be better off somewhere else. Nobody knows what would have happened if Joey came back. With all the positives that occurred this offseason, I am fine with Hauser deciding to leave the program.

Michigan State has everything to play for next season. A conference title, Final Four, and national championship are all very realistic. Michigan State will likely be a top-five team in the country to start the season, and that is thanks to a near-perfect offseason for the program.

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Michigan State basketball: AJ Hoggard earns high praise from Malik Hall (Video)

Malik Hall had nothing but good things to say about AJ Hoggard.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball got some good news this week and Malik Hall is more than happy to have AJ Hoggard back.

In a recent interview with Justin Spiro, Malik Hall spoke in detail about AJ Hoggard. He discussed how great of a person he is on and off the court and how there are a lot of misconceptions about him from Michigan State basketball fans.

Here is a two-minute clip from that interview where Hall talks about AJ.

The star point guard AJ Hoggard dealt with a lot of criticism from the Spartan fanbase this season. Nobody plays great every game, and I think our fans mostly understand that.

The thing that bothered some of our fans however was Hoggard’s body language in the games in which he was struggling. Instead of staying positive, some fans criticized him for seemingly not trying or caring during his struggles.

AJ Hoggard: The leader

Malik Hall is here to tell you that none of that is true. Hall explained how this opinion from fans is the furthest thing from the truth. Malik mentioned that even though AJ’s face looks like he doesn’t care, that is not how he feels at all. That’s great to hear about your starting point guard and one of the leaders of the team. Guys look to AJ for leadership and motivation, so if they see negative body language from him they are likely to mirror that. So even though AJ sometimes looks like he is checked out on the court, it’s nice to know that the rest of the team doesn’t feel that way.

Malik also went on to share that AJ is one of the nicest and most genuine guys he knows. He considers Hoggard to be one of his best friends not just on the team, but in his life. Hall mentioned that AJ is the first guy to text you when you are struggling with something outside of basketball.

That’s the best type of leader in my opinion. Someone who pushes you to be great on the court but always makes sure you are okay off the court.

Sophomore guard Tre Holloman responded to this tweet on Twitter agreeing with what Hall said.

The next time you think AJ looks out of it in a game, remember this interview. Remember that Malik Hall mentioned that nobody on the team feels this way and they all know that how AJ truly feels doesn’t match the “AJ face.”

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Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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