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Mar 21, 2024 2:39 pm

No. 9 Michigan State stifles No. 8 Mississippi State

michigan state mississippi

CHARLOTTE –Tyson Walker scored 19 points and Michigan State never trailed in claiming a 69-51 victory against Mississippi State in the NCAA West Region’s first round Thursday afternoon.

The Spartans mostly did it with their defense, but six different players made at least one 3-point shot to boost the offense.

Jaden Akins racked up 15 points, joining Walker with three 3-pointers, and Malik Hall added 10 points..

Ninth-seeded Michigan State (20-14) meets the winner between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 16 seed Wagner in Saturday’s second round.

Josh Hubbard scored 15 points for eighth-seeded Mississippi State (21-14), which shot 37 percent from the field and made only 6 of 27 attempts from 3-point range. The Bulldogs ended up with a season-low point total.

Mississippi State hung around, aided by a 3-pointer and dunk from reserve Shakeel Moore, who was playing in his home state, in the second half, but the Bulldogs couldn’t keep up.

They made just one of their final 15 shots and were scoreless over the last 4:07 of the game.

Michigan State’s Xavier Booker hit a 3-pointer and Tre Holloman connected from long range to stretch the margin to 59-45 with less than 10 minutes to play. Even though the Spartans were charged with 16 turnovers, they forced 15 giveaways.

It was so comforting for the Spartans that coach Tom Izzo’s son, little-used Steven Izzo, entered the game off the bench in the final minute.

The Spartans were attentive defensively, limiting Mississippi State big man Tolu Smith to 3-for-5 shooting from the floor and nine total points. He entered averaging 15.2 points per game.

Michigan State gained control early in the game.

Walker hit a 3 in transition for an 18-8 lead. The Spartans, who were hurt by nine first-half turnovers, went up by 12 and withstood a scoring drought of almost five minutes to lead 31-24 at halftime. They shot 54.2 percent in the half.

Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half. When Mississippi State had chances at the foul line in the second half, it didn’t convert often by making just half of its 10 attempts.

–Bob Sutton, Field Level Media

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