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Michigan State basketball: 3 takeaways from 73-55 win over Rutgers

A nice response to a two-game skid.

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

Michigan State basketball picked up a big win over Rutgers on Sunday to bounce back from a two-game skid. What’d we learn?

In a must-win game for Michigan State basketball, the Spartans responded in a big way, defeating Rutgers 73-55. This wasn’t a pretty game for most of the afternoon, but an 18-point win is no joke.

Here are my three takeaways from the big win for the Spartans.

1. A win is a win

Michigan State came into this game with a 9-7 (1-4) record, so a win in this game was a must. The game on Sunday was not pretty for most of the afternoon, but when your record is as bad as Michigan State’s, does it really matter?

Not every game is going to be fun to watch. The Spartans won’t obliterate teams like we did against Baylor a month ago. But there’s nothing wrong with that. The best teams in the country are the ones that find a way to win even when they aren’t playing well. That’s exactly what MSU did on Sunday.

It’s no secret that outside of their massive 19-0 run in the second half, the Spartans didn’t play that well. But they hung in there and finally caught fire which proved to be too much for Rutgers. So even though this wasn’t a pretty game, it was still an 18-point win which is all MSU needed.

2. Malik Hall sparked the massive second-half run

Malik Hall doesn’t get enough credit from time to time. Hall, however, is one of the main reasons Michigan State won this game as convincingly as it did. Rutgers took a 36-35 lead heading into a TV timeout in the second half. Out of that timeout, it was Hall who sparked the Spartans’ run. He had a monstrous dunk followed by an and-1 the next possession to light a fire under MSU. The Spartans then went on a 19-0 run and never looked back in this game.

This is exactly what you want to see from your fifth-year senior. The Breslin Center was dead, Rutgers had all the momentum and Hall put the team on his back for a couple of plays to change the tide of this game. A lot of fans are quick to criticize Hall when he plays poorly, but I hope they give him the credit he deserves for this win.

3. The center spot is a problem

Let me preface by saying that I don’t think the center spot is a problem defensively. Mady Sissoko and Carson Cooper are plus defenders and both are solid rebounders as well. But offensively there is a lot to be desired.

Neither of the bigs are able to give MSU a bucket in the post regularly. Not only that, but they both have a couple of plays each game where they just can’t catch the ball. The guards are good enough that the centers don’t need to go out and win the Spartans a game, but they need more out of them.

I believe Jaxon Kohler could be that answer, but he still doesn’t look 100 percent yet from his injury. So until he’s ready, the staff needs to figure out how to get the centers to be productive down low.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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