Michigan State used a 24-6 run early in the second half to cruise to a 73-64 win over Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night.
The win improves the No. 22 Spartans' record to 6-2 on the season, with the start of Big Ten play just a week away.
After a 1-for-6 shooting start, the Spartans knocked down four of their next five attempts to take an 11-7 lead with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
Senior Gabe Brown carried Michigan State offensively through much of the first half, with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, as the teams played to a 19-19 tie at the under-8 timeout in the first half.
Trailing 22-21 just moments later, the Spartans went on a 9-0 scoring spurt, aiding by three-pointers from Max Christie and Pierre Brooks, to take a 30-22 lead with 4:04 left in the opening frame.
Michigan State led 36-28 at halftime.
Louisville opened the second half with a 9-3 run in the first four and a half minutes to shrink the Spartans' lead to 39-37 with 15:41 left to play.
Michigan State responded in a big way however, counter-punching with a 13-2 run, capped by a Malik Hall three-pointer on a fast break. With that, the Spartans took their largest lead of the game to that point, 52-39, with just over 12 minutes on the clock.
After a Louisville timeout, Michigan State punched the Cardinals in the mouth again. Hall hit another triple, his third of the game, followed by a fast break alley-oop slam from Tyson Walker to Marcus Bingham Jr. that sent the Breslin Center crowd into a frenzy.
The Spartans lead would grow as large as 63-43 with 7:54 left in the game, and Michigan State survived a late Louisville rally to get their sixth win in the last seven games.
1. Malik Hall brings more to the table than Joey Hauser
Malik Hall had a great first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, scoring 24 points on 9-of-9 shooting. He disappeared in the final two games in the Bahamas, which led to Izzo swapping Hall out of the starting lineup for Joey Hauser tonight. But overall, Hall is bringing more to the table than Joey Hauser. Against the Cardinals, Hall scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-3 from three-point range. The junior added 5 rebounds and 2 assists. On the other end of the spectrum, Hauser once again struggled, finishing with 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting and 3 turnovers. Hall is more athletic than Hauser, and more sure of himself on the floor -- that's easily evident at this point. Michigan State needs more consistency out of Hall, but Hauser has been consistently underwhelming through the first eight games of the season.
2. Jaden Akins needs more minutes
Freshman Jaden Akins has looked really comfortable on the floor in his last couple outings. After scoring 12 points in 18 minutes against Baylor, Akins came back with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting tonight in 11 minutes against Louisville. The freshman went 2-2 from three-point range. Michigan State needs to find guys that are going to consistently put the ball in the basket, and the development of Akins in these last two games is very encouraging. Tom Izzo needs to get him on the floor more.
3. Walker, Hoggard settling in?
The point guard play has been something of an enigma for the Spartans so far this season -- inconsistent at best, downright bad at worst. But on Wednesday, Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard both played well. Walker only scored _ points, but he got others involved on offense with 10 assists, and was also a nuisance for the Cardinals on defense with 4 steals and a block. Hoggard, meanwhile, had a nice floor game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. This was the best game for these two as a tandem, and hopefully that's a sign of things to come from the point guard spot.