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Michigan State basketball: Stock watch following ugly win over Minnesota

Who or what is on the rise?

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

Michigan State basketball picked up a 10-point win over Minnesota on Thursday night. Here’s what the stock watch looks like.

When Michigan State basketball fans watched the game on Thursday night, it was not the performance they expected or wanted. If you look at just the score, it doesn’t reflect how close this game was throughout the night. This was a very competitive game with Minnesota being without one of its starting guards. Minnesota has improved in the past few years but fans were also looking for a better performance than they say.

While Michigan State did struggle for the majority of the night, there were a few stocks that rose in the game.

Stock up

  • Tyson Walker

For the majority of the night, Tyson Walker was quiet. He was contributing on the defensive end but definitely not scoring until the last four minutes of the game. In a tie game that Michigan State really needed a bucket, they went to Walker. He finished with 21 points, a majority of those being in those last four minutes. While fans know that Walker should get the ball down the stretch, this also shows that if the offense is stagnant, the Spartans have to find him. Fans won’t argue with Walker getting more shots and for certain stretches of this game, the offense was struggling to score and a lot of that time, he was on the bench. Walker is a key player in this offense and his performance in the last stretch of the game helped Michigan State get the win.

  • Malik Hall

This was another quality performance from Malik Hall and during a game that he scored his 1,000th point. During the game, Malik had a double-double and impacted the game through his aggressiveness and hustle. Minnesota head coach Ben Johnson even said in his press conference that Malik was the difference in this game. When he is aggressive and gets going early, he’s someone this team can rely on and he has been playing very well lately and this game was no different.

  • Forcing turnovers, minimizing turnovers

Besides Hall and Walker, if you want one thing to point at that was key in this game was the turnovers. Michigan State forced 19 turnovers in this game and only committed five themselves. If the difference in the game wasn’t that large, this game could have turned out very differently. If this team can continue to force turnovers and protect the ball, it’s definitely going to help the Spartans going forward, especially when they aren’t playing well.

Stock down

  • Free throw shooting

Early in the season, this was a big issue. It lost this team some basketball games. On Thursday, that issue resurfaced and almost lost the Spartans the game. Minnesota was in foul trouble for most of the game and to go 15-for-23 from the line, that had to drive Tom Izzo crazy — it sure drove the fans crazy. Shooting 65 percent in a game is not going to win you many and this is an issue that is going to have to be fixed.

  • 3-point shooting

Every team has a bad night shooting the ball. This team had several of those to start the season and had that on Thursday by shooting just 25 percent from deep. The 3-point shooting is something that was a concern for fans but this team had some of its best players missing wide open shots. This was not a good shooting night but the 3-point shooting is definitely the lesser of the concerns between that and free throw shooting.

This game brought back some concerns about the Spartans. It also showed how this team has grown from the start of the season. Did this team grow from their game against Minnesota? No but this was a win and that’s what they needed to do. It was not a good game for the majority of the night but the Spartans figured out how to win the game, got a few huge plays from Tyson Walker at the end, and played strong defensively to finish the game.

This was not the performance anyone wanted but it ended with a win going into an important two-game road trip to Maryland and Wisconsin.

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