EAST LANSING – Michigan State men’s basketball took the floor again Sunday afternoon to host Alcorn State. The Spartans were looking for a win to close out the homestand, but they would have to do so without their leading scorer, graduate student guard Tyson Walker who was out with an illness. MSU took it in stride, however, and dominated the Braves for the win, 81-49.
The story of the game in the first half came down to three-point shooting. It’s been a weakness for the Spartans thus far, but they got hot from beyond the arc on Sunday, shooting 6-11 in the first half.
After tying with the Braves 5-5, MSU went on a 35-5 run to take a commanding lead. This was led by junior guard Jaden Akins and sophomore guard Tre Holloman, the latter of whom made four of four shots from behind the arc in the first half.
Also making an impact in the first half was freshman point guard Jeremy Fears Jr., who scored five points to go along with three assists.
For Alcorn State, senior shooting guard Jermiah Gambrell led the scoring for the Braves in the first half with six points as he tried to keep the game competitive. But after holding them to a staggering 5-34 from the field, it was the Spartans who went into the locker room with a dominant 44-16 lead.
It was more of the same for MSU in the second half. Akins hit two three-point shots while Holloman added one more of his own, extending his record from beyond the arc to a perfect five for five on the night.
Midway through the second half, freshman forward Coen Carr threw down a massive dunk over Alcorn State’s Trevon Stoutermire, which received a lengthy applause from the Breslin Center crowd. It would end up being one of Carr’s three dunks on the night.
“He plays hard,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said of Carr’s performance. “How in the hell he made that dunk I’ll never know.”
Later on, Fears would get a dunk of his own, coming from an off-the-backboard alley-oop pass from Holloman. The Spartans were clearly having fun on the court, blowing right through the rest of the game to walk away with a blowout win.
In Walker’s absence, the Spartan veterans stepped up. Holloman, who led all scorers, ended the night with 17 points to go along with five assists. Akins would finish with 13 points and five rebounds as MSU cruised through the second half.
At the same time, it was a night for the young Spartans too. The freshman duo of Carr and Fears would finish with nine and eleven points, respectively, providing an important contribution in the blowout win. With every game, both of them seemed to get more and more comfortable within the team.
The Spartans were truly firing on all cylinders on Sunday. As a team, they shot 52% from the field, and 40% from three. Four MSU players finished with double figures. On the defensive side, the Spartans came up with nine dunks while holding Alcorn State to 26% from the field. With their leading scorer on the bench, it made the win feel that much better.
“I thought it was good that our guys responded [to Walker’s absence] the way they did, ”Izzo said.
It was a comprehensive victory, and with next week’s trip to Palm Springs, California to face No. 3 Arizona, this will surely be a significant confidence booster. That game will take place Thursday, Nov. 23 at 4 pm.
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