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Michigan State basketball: 3 quick thoughts from win over Buffalo

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Michigan State basketball
© Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Izzo was worried about facing Buffalo after a long break. The Michigan State basketball coach knew that the Bulls would give his Spartans all they could handle offensively and push the tempo.

But with Michigan State officially back at full strength on Friday night as Malik Hall returned, the Spartans ran away with an 89-68 win. They started each half slowly, just like Izzo was worried about, and finally pulled away late.

Michigan State is now 9-4 on the season with the win, picking up its fourth straight win before conference play starts back up against Nebraska on Jan. 3.

Here are a few of my quick thoughts from the win.

1. Michigan State is a much better team with Malik Hall

This one was obvious. Malik Hall makes Michigan State so much better. When he’s on the floor, the Spartans run a more efficient offense and have a better defense. Hall didn’t play as much as he will later in the year as he’s still trying to get his conditioning back and avoid any setbacks but he still scored 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting and was 2-for-3 from deep.

Plus he was just a really good facilitator and drew a lot of attention from the defense which led to open looks for teammates.

When Hall is on the floor, Michigan State is very good.

2. Jaden Akins is heating up at the right time

You love to see Jaden Akins getting healthy and getting hot. He has been on a tear lately, shooting the lights out from 3-point range over the past few games.

In fact, he was 8-for-12 from distance in the three games leading up to Friday’s non-conference finale and all he did was make all three of his tries. He’s now 11-for-15 in the last four games from deep. That’s a wild percentage right there.

Heading into Big Ten play, the sophomore guard is molding into a star.

3. The freshmen gave some good minutes

With the game in hand, the Spartan freshmen got some good run on Friday. Jaxon Kohler gave some good minutes with seven points, four rebounds, and a block on 3-of-5 shooting while Tre Holloman also scored seven with two assists and a steal. He had great vision all game long.

And don’t forget about Carson Cooper who had three points and a rebound.

This was a good growth game for the freshmen.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.

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