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Michigan State basketball: 3 quick thoughts from ugly Michigan win

The Spartans picked up a big win over rival Michigan on Saturday.



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

It wasn’t pretty (again), but Michigan State basketball picked up a win over first-place Michigan to improve to 11-4. Here are my thoughts.

If you liked missed shots, low-scoring hoops, and unnecessarily tight games late, you would have loved Michigan versus Michigan State basketball on Saturday afternoon.

The Spartans were able to hold on for a 59-53 win over the Wolverines at home and it probably should have been a little more lopsided, but a 14-point second-half lead melted away as Michigan cut it to just four with minutes left. AJ Hoggard and MSU were able to hold on and hit some late free throws, but this game was as ugly as ugly can be.

Michigan State did, however, hold Hunter Dickinson to just 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting despite Mady Sissoko playing one of his worst games of the year with two points, three turnovers, and four fouls.

Here are my thoughts from the tight, ugly win in East Lansing.

1. Malik Hall was the difference

A name that we didn’t hear a ton of on Saturday afternoon was Malik Hall and yet he still managed to finish with 15 points and three rebounds on 5-for-9 shooting. He went on a personal run of his own in the second half to extend the lead and he was really the difference in this one. The Wolverines couldn’t seem to slow him down and he only played 23 minutes.

On an afternoon when nothing seemed to be falling for the Spartans, Hall was consistent and kept Michigan State treading water when it needed it most.

Hall may very well be the most important player on this team.

2. AJ Hoggard looked like Cassius Winston-lite

Man, I was so impressed with how AJ Hoggard played on Saturday. He was one of the most consistent performers all afternoon long and I honestly wish he would have hunted for his own shots more.

Sometimes Hoggard needs to be a little more selfish.

When Michigan State needed a big shot, he stepped up and hit it. Hoggard had 15 points, six assists, four rebounds, and only one turnover while shooting 6-for-10 from the floor and playing good defense. He looked like Cassius Winston-lite out there against Michigan, making circus shots and big plays when MSU needed them.

We’re seeing him grow up before our eyes.

3. This was MSU’s ‘D’ game and it still won

Was this Michigan State’s A game? Absolutely not. Was it a B or even a C game? Nope. Michigan State played one of its worst offensive games of the year (a ‘D’ grade in my mind) and still found a way to win by six. The Spartans were even up by double figures for most of the second half before Michigan chipped away late, but while this doesn’t feel like a great win, it is when you consider they won’t play like this on a normal basis.

In the weeks leading up to this game, Michigan State was looking like one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but for 40 minutes, it couldn’t buy a bucket. In fact, it shot 38 percent from the floor and 32 percent from deep. We won’t see that happen too often.

But even though it did, this Michigan State basketball team didn’t panic and found a way to get the job done. Not too satisfactory of a win, but a good sign that they can play poorly and still cover.


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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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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