Michigan State has been a pleasant surprise during nonconference play. The Spartans will have one more tuneup before their first Big Ten game this season.
Ranked No. 22, Michigan State will host Mid-American Conference opponent Toledo on Saturday. The Spartans are coming off a 73-64 home win over Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday.
The Spartans (6-2) were unranked until this week, when a strong showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas enhanced their resume. They pulled out narrow victories against Loyola (Chicago) and Connecticut before losing in the title game to No. 6 Baylor.
Against the Cardinals, Michigan State led by eight at halftime and built its lead to 20 in the second half.
“We are going to be a hell of a team, man,” forward Marcus Bingham Jr. said. “We’re coming for everybody in the country. I feel like we (were) slept on.”
Louisville was held to 41 percent shooting and committed 16 turnovers.
“I thought our defense probably won us the game,” coach Tom Izzo said.
Izzo wasn’t pleased with his team’s offensive showing outside of its 10-for-18 success rate on 3-point attempts. The Spartans committed 19 turnovers and are averaging 16.1 per game.
“It’s hard to feel good when you turn it over 19 times when you work on it,” Izzo said. “There was like six in a row it seemed like. … Somehow it has to fall on me, so I’m going to take the blame for it, but we have to figure it out. If we can do this with 19 turnovers whether it’s Kansas, whether it’s Baylor, whether it’s these guys — in other words, quality teams — just think what we are going to be able to do if we quit turning the ball over.”
Reserve Malik Hall led the team in scoring with 15 points. He bounced back from the team’s last two outings, when he scored a total of five points.
“It’s really just confidence in myself and trust in the work that I put in, while also making sure that I do it all within our offense,” Hall said. “I’m not trying to break down the offense and be an isolation person, I’m trying to do it within and find that consistency.”
Tyson Walker also had a highly productive night despite scoring just two points. He contributed 10 assists and four steals in 20 minutes.
“This is actually my first time ever getting 10 assists since high school, so I was very excited for that,” Walker said.
The Spartans play Minnesota and Penn State next week.
Toledo (6-1) will be facing a ranked opponent for the first time this season. It carries a four-game winning streak into the contest, including a 106-36 romp over Northwestern Ohio on Monday.
The margin of victory was the largest in program history.
“I was really impressed with how we played together and thought our ball movement was good,” associate head coach Jeff Massey said. “We swung the ball from side to side and made the extra pass. It was good to get back on the court after playing three games in three days in the Bahamas last week.”
The Rockets’ loss came against Oakland (Mich.) University. Toledo has five players averaging double figures, led by Ryan Rollins (20 PPG).
–Field Level Media