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Michigan State Basketball: The great, good, bad, and ugly from Purdue loss

There was a lot of good from a painful loss.



Michigan State basketball
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball drops its second in a row at the hands of Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer and No. 3 Purdue.

In what would end up being an extremely frustrating loss for the green and white, Michigan State basketball drops to 12-6 on the season following the Purdue game.

What makes MSU’s loss more difficult to swallow is they essentially loss to just Fletcher Loyer and Zach Edey. Loyer and Edey made up 49 of the Boilermakers’ 64 total points. Whether that says more about Purdue’s offense or Michigan State’s defense, the Spartans had no answer for the Boilermaker pair.

After going down early, the Spartans had their own dynamic duo to pull them back into the contest. Tyson Walker was absolutely unconscious from all areas on the court. Finishing with a team and new career high 30 points, Walker almost willed MSU to a win himself. Unfortunately, his heroics were not enough as MSU came just a point short of the upset, losing 64-63.

Despite the loss, Michigan State put up a heck of a fight.

Here are the great, good, bad, and ugly from a tough, albeit promising, loss to Purdue.

Great: Tyson Walker

If you were able to watch even a second of the second half, you could tell that Tyson Walker absolutely took over against the Boilermakers. One year after hitting the game winner against Purdue at the Breslin, Walker channeled his former self and made plays when needed.

Having a team high 23 shot attempts, Tyson converted on over 50 percent, finishing 12-for-23 from the field. Scoring 30 points should not be overlooked, but what is just as important is how and when Walker hit his shots. When it seemed as though no one, outside Hoggard, was able to score, Tyson demanded the rock and nail jumper after jumper. Walker was not going to be denied down the stretch, putting on a performance the likes of which have not been seen since Cassius Winston donned the green and white years ago.

Electrifying the Izzone, giving the best performance we have seen this season thus far, and single-handedly standing tall against the No. 3 team in the country, Walker was absolutely spectacular.

Good: Poise when trailing

Following an even first few minutes, Purdue soon jumped out to a substantial lead at the Breslin. Edey was able to get whatever he wanted in the first 10 minutes, and the Spartans found themselves down 13 in the first half.

Whether it was Tom Izzo, the leaders on the team, or possibly the energy from the Izzone, MSU did not surrender. Thanks to above average shooting, the Spartans went on a 14-3 scoring run to end the half. Continuing their charge in the first minutes of the second half, Michigan State eventually went up by five just three minutes into the second half, and then by four with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

Even with being absolutely dominated in the paint, and some questionable calls from the officials, the Spartans continued to fight until the very end. Keeping poise and remaining calm down even when facing a double digit deficit against the first place team in the Big Ten is a feat in itself. MSU can hold its head high for not giving up.

Bad: Guard play outside of Walker and Hoggard

If it weren’t for A.J. Hoggard and Walker, the Spartan guards would have finished with just five points. While all five of those points did come from starter Jaden Akins, Michigan State basketball needs more production from the sophomore X-factor.

Only scoring in double digits once out of his last five games, Akins is too offensively gifted to have just five points per game. Shooting 40 percent from three on the year, attempting just one 3-pointer is unacceptable. Increasing his shot attempts and decreasing his out of control fast break layups will be vital for the Farmington native going forward.

Both guards off the bench, Pierre Brooks and Tre Holloman were held scoreless on Monday. While Holloman being held scoreless is not much of a surprise, Brooks has shown this season that he is more than capable to add some offense off the bench. Brooks is now scoreless in his last four games, all being Big Ten opponents.

After being highly regarded as the expected breakout player this season, Brooks has been nothing but disappointing in conference play, both offensively and defensively. If he is going to play to his potential, Pierre will need to start by adding some sort of spark off the bench.

Ugly: Post play

Rather than singling out one player, offensively or defensively, that played poorly down low against Purdue, this is all encompassing. The lack of any sort of success in the lane falls on MSU’s players, coaches, and, to some extent, Big Ten officiating.

The most apparent, however, is the lack of production from Michigan State’s centers. Going against possibly the best player in the country in the 7-foot-4 Edey is obviously difficult. Regardless, Mady Sissoko added another zero-point outing, while both freshmen, Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler, each contributed two. This season has been a train wreck at the five, with no signs of improving.

Spartan coaches put together a terrible game plan as Edey was constantly able to catch the ball deep on the block. It is obvious that Purdue is offensively anemic outside Edey and Loyer, yet the Spartans did not force the other Boilermakers to beat them.

Double teaming Edey the moment he touched the ball and forcing Purdue’s wings to beat you from a distance would have been a good start. In addition to the lack of game plan, Monday’s loss was a prime example why adding a starting-caliber center from the transfer portal was a necessity this past offseason. Trusting a below average Sissoko and two true freshmen to defend and then score against the best player in the country is a recipe for failure. The transfer portal seems to have worked with Tyson Walker, why it was not utilized again was a mistake by the Michigan State basketball staff.

Officiating should not, and will not, define this team. Calls from the officials are a part of this game and must be accounted for. With that being said, it is next to impossible for Zach Edey to have been called for zero fouls on Monday. Edey is committing less than 1.5 fouls per game. Standing at 7-4, this is quite literally impossible. The Spartan big men didn’t help themselves, but it’s difficult to matchup against centers who do not get called for fouls.


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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