EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN — Not many elements of the latest get-together between Michigan State and Michigan on the hardwood were things that could be described as aesthetically pleasing, outside of actually earning the win at the end. The Spartans were able to earn that beautiful “W” on Saturday, but the prettiest sight of all for Michigan State was seeing Malik Hall continue his impactful play that makes the team a tough out as long as he’s on the floor.
The senior forward scored 15 points off the bench as the Spartans held the lead for the majority of the game before holding on late to defeat the Wolverines 59-53 at the Breslin Center on Saturday afternoon. Junior guard A.J. Hoggard also scored 15 points while backcourt mate Tyson Walker added 14 points as Michigan State handed the Wolverines their first conference loss of the season.
Both the Spartans and Wolverines set a season-low for points in the defensive struggle, with Michigan shooting just 34 percent from the field (19-for-55) and Michigan State not doing too much better at 37.5 percent (21-for-56). Hall did shot 3-for-6 in the first half, and his nine points in the opening 20 minutes helped the Spartans open up a 27-18 halftime lead.
The Spartans’ lead ballooned to 42-28 after a Hoggard jumper with 8:59 remaining before the Wolverines went on a 15-5 run to cut Michigan State’s lead to four on two free throws from Jett Howard with just under four minutes remaining.
Hall responded by canning a jumper as Michigan State was able to push its lead back to seven before icing the game at the free throw line. The Spartans made six of their seven three-throw attempts in the second half.
The win improved Michigan State’s record to 6-1 in games that Hall has played in this season, including wins against Michigan, Villanova and Kentucky. Hall missed eight games earlier this season with a stress reaction in his left foot.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by Detroit-area photographer Aaron J. Thornton. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 22 pictures in total.