EAST LANSING — Tom Izzo anticipated a rock struggle and acquired one.
Rutgers pounded the boards all night time. But Michigan State basketball’s protection swarmed the Scarlet Knights regardless of all their second possibilities, and the Spartans put collectively an old-school exhibiting in a must-win second.
With a watershed second for freshman Jaxon Kohler.
Kohler helped MSU overcome early publish issues by getting profession highs with 12 factors and 11 rebounds in the Spartans’ tougher-than-it-looked 70-57 victory Thursday night time at Breslin Center, a resurgent efficiency after two straight shut losses.
“It reveals our progress with our guys,” level guard AJ Hoggard mentioned. “And even our younger guys simply stepping up tonight, with Jaxon coming in with a double-double. He did not actually play that a lot final two video games, his minutes went down a little bit greater than standard. For him to simply reply like that, it simply reveals you what sort of staff we’ve, what sort of individuals we’ve in this locker room.
“So it simply means a lot to us for us to bounce again like this.”
MSU (13-6, 5-3 Big Ten) held Rutgers to 2-for-17 3-point taking pictures whereas the Spartans took benefit of creating 12 of twenty-two from deep. AJ Hoggard (16 factors), Joey Hauser (13 factors), Tyson Walker (12 factors) and Jaden Akins (11 factors) every had three 3-pointers.
It will probably be one other fast turnaround for MSU, which travels to Indiana for a midday tipoff Sunday on CBS.
“It was good that we solely had two days actually to sort of digest and we needed to transfer on straight away,” mentioned Hauser, who added six rebounds and 4 assists. “We could not dwell on that Purdue loss. That one took a lot out of us, particularly being up one with the final possession. But we needed to transfer on straight away, and that is what we gotta do Sunday as effectively.”
Kohler went 6-for-9 from the ground and helped the Spartans overcome Rutgers’ 34-20 scoring benefit in the paint. The Scarlet Knights additionally had a 42-34 rebounding benefit, together with an 18-6 edge on the offensive glass that led to a 15-4 margin in second-chance factors.
“A rock struggle, which means very bodily, very robust video games. Grinding video games. We’re getting a little higher at it,” Izzo mentioned. “But I’m glad we gained and acquired our butts kicked.”
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Clifford Omoruyi had 12 factors and 12 rebounds, whereas Paul Mulcahy scored 12 and Caleb McConnell had 11 for Rutgers (13-6, 5-3). Leading scorer Cam Spencer went 3-for-14 and scored eight factors, lacking seven straight 3-pointers earlier than hitting one late. The Scarlet Knights made simply 34.4% of their pictures.
Sluggish to scorching
Like they did in Monday’s 64-63 loss to Purdue, which constructed a 24-11 lead early, the Spartans acquired off to a different abysmal begin.
They did so this time by getting hammered inside and on the boards by the Scarlet Knights, who acquired a pair of Omoruyi dunks to start out the sport and hit 6 of 12 pictures to construct a 14-5 lead in the primary 6:03. Rutgers had an 8-3 edge on the glass early, capped by a three-point play by Mawot Mag on the first media timeout.
Right after that, Walker hit a 3-pointer proper after that to spark a 12-2 run that was capped by one other 3 from Hoggard, with a pair of Kohler nifty publish strikes for layups sandwiched in between. It was that exterior taking pictures that set the tone for a way MSU acquired again into the sport and overcame the benefit the Scarlet Knights constructed in the paint.
Walker scored six straight factors on a typical three-point play and his second 3-pointer earlier than drawing his second foul and sitting the ultimate 5:46.
Hoggard turned it over to McConnell, who took it in transition for a layup that put Rutgers again up by a level. But Hoggard answered with a sturdy closing stretch earlier than the half, hitting a deep 3-pointer earlier than the shot clock expired with 3:58. Hauser drained one other 3, then Hoggard arrange Akins for one more from behind the arc as MSU took a 36-30 lead into halftime.
The Spartans gave up 9 second-chance factors because the Scarlet Knights had a 10-4 benefit on the offensive glass and a 21-16 rebounding margin on the break. Rutgers additionally had an 18-12 scoring edge in the publish.
MSU made 7 of 13 3-pointers and restricted the Scarlet Knights to simply 1-for-10 from behind the road. The Spartans hit 7 of 10 pictures over the ultimate 7 minutes whereas shutting down Rutgers to 3-for-15 in the final 8-plus minutes.
“I assumed we acquired some beauty, and so they made it robust for us, too, at occasions,” Scarlet Knights coach Steve Pikiell mentioned. “We actually needed to assault the glass as a secondary approach to rating. … I do not know in the event that they’ve shot the ball higher from 3 this season. They made 3s, and we did not.”
MSU’s rebounding woes remained after halftime, because the Scarlet Knights grabbed 4 offensive boards on their first possession of the second half that ended in an Omoruyi rebound and putback dunk.
Kohler once more changed beginning heart Mady Sissoko, and he rapidly acquired a defensive board after which completed inside with a layup on the different finish. And Izzo went with Kohler and Carson Cooper together with fellow freshman level guard Tre Holloman throughout one stretch, getting strong protection and rebounding throughout that stretch from his younger massive males.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Kohler logged a career-high 23 minutes, 23 seconds; he performed simply 13 minutes mixed in MSU’s previous three video games in opposition to Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue.
“Being on the market with my teammates actually made us wish to be on the court docket extra,” mentioned Kohler, who added a career-best three blocked pictures.
Rutgers lower it to a two-point lead on two free throws from Omoruyi after Hauser’s third foul, however Akins grabbed an offensive board on the different finish then kicked it out to Holloman, whose off-balance dart of a cross discovered Sissoko for a layup .
After Walker had a 3-pointer waved off by a Rutgers foul name earlier than the shot that originally had Breslin bouncing, Akins acquired a steal off Mulcahy and took it the size of the court docket for a two-handed dunk that once more despatched the gang into hysterics and prompted a Scarlet Knights timeout.
MSU’s protection acquired two stops and a Kohler baseline jumper and Hoggard’s third 3-pointer to construct its lead again to 50-41 with 11:06 remaining. The Spartans continued to smother Rutgers’ shooters, as Spencer missed three 3-point makes an attempt because the Scarlet Knights had been 0-for-6 from deep after halftime till Spencer hit one with 10.8 seconds left and the result determined.
Hoggard completed with seven assists however dedicated 4 of MSU’s 10 turnovers. Akins stuffed the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, a career-high 4 steals and a block. The Spartans had 19 assists on their 26 baskets, and the 12 3-pointers trailed solely the 13 they made in wins over Villanova and Portland again in November.
“It was sort of like about time that we made pictures,” mentioned Walker, who went 3-for-5 from deep and simply 4-for-10 general Thursday. “It’s been one particular person will make pictures and no one else will. Today, everyone made pictures.”
Contact Chris Solari:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.
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Matchups: Michigan State (13-6, 5-3 Big Ten) at Indiana (11-6, 2-4).
Tipoff: Noon Sunday; Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana.
TV/radio: CBS, WJR-AM (760).