Via Michigan state basketball Instagram
Michigan State (8-4) turned up enough in the second half to secure a victory over the Oakland Grizzlies (2-11) at the Breslin Center on Wednesday evening (Dec 21) after a somewhat unpredictable first half. Perhaps, it was Coach Tom Izzo's festive Christmas sweater that gave some extra motivation to go out with a win before the short Holiday break.
Courtesy of Big Ten Network
Izzo said, "First I just want to thank the fans. We have great turn outs during Christmas." He added about the competition, "It was a hodge podge game. We were good for a while; they were good for a while. We were bad for a while."
Going into half, Michigan State led by only 5 points (29-24) after struggling to find their rhythm, going on a four-minute scoring drought while Oakland went on a 12-0 run.
The Spartans got on their horse at the end of the half and was able to keep it galloping in the right direction after halftime with an uncontested 10-0 run against the Grizzlies, scoring 23 points in just 4 minutes.
Stevens Point, Wisconsin native Joey Hauser dominated on offense with 16 points, going six for nine from the field, including four for five beyond the arc. Even after receiving back to back fouls totaling three personal fouls with 15 minutes left to go in the game, he was able to return, stay composed and add to his team's lead. He dished the ball out well with 4 assists to his mates for scores.
Michigan State Basketball via Instagram
Sophomore guard Jaden Akins looks healed and healthy again, securing his career high. He played a key role in Michigan State's campaign as he added an impressive 15 points with accuracy from the field going five for eight with three for three points.
Akins said "I'm just kind of getting back into my rhythm."
At some point in the second half, the Spartans did allow Oakland to gain steam, coming back within 11 points from a lead of over 20.
In discussing the lulls they had in the game, Akins said, "It's hard to get going when you taking the ball out every time. Our defense led to our offense to get us going."
The Grizzlies' successful spirts can be credited to the leadership by Keaton Hervey who added 16 points and eight rebounds. The Grizzlies' Trey Townsend also played with tenacity snagging 14 points and a great defensive campaign causing double-digit Spartan turnovers. Their tough defense seemed to surprise those viewing the game, quieting the commentary from a large Spartan crowd at certain times. It was not enough though.
Izzo complimented Oakland's efforts, giving a nod to Hervey and Townsend. He added that he reveres Head Coach Greg Kampe and what he is doing with his team.
The Spartans sustained the lead winning 67-54 and sending Oakland away with their 11th loss of the season.
When talking about what they will do on the break, Izzo said, "It's going to be practice, practice, and more practice" as he explained there were some basics they needed more work on.
Michigan State returns to action at the Breslin on Dec. 30 hosting Buffalo at 6pm.