MSU’s Gary Harris drives around Loyola defender
Today, Michigan State basketball continued their perfect home record, now 7-0, as they took down the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Coming into the game, Loyola was looking for their fifth consecutive victory with their new and improved team who got their sixth season win on Dec. 1, while last year’s squad didn’t get their sixth until Feb. 11. Even with Loyola’s 6-2 second best start in the last six seasons, they knew they had a tough game ahead of them against No. 19 MSU.
Gary Harris, recently back from a shoulder injury, played the most of his teammates in the first half with 15 minutes and 6 points for Michigan State. The Spartan rotation was continuous, as Adreian Payne reprised his role as the 6th man off the bench, and proved himself with the most points in the first half with 9. The first half filled with a numerous amount of fouls and turnovers, including a lane violation on the Spartans, costing them a free throw. These events left a concerned Spartan team behind 32-30 at the half.
Michigan State collected themselves and came out strong in the second half. The game was all tied up again within the first minute of the second. Gary Harris then came out with a bang, scoring 3 three-pointers in a row, giving the Spartans an edge up on the Ramblers at 52-41 with 11:47 left to play. Yet, the Spartans did not stop there. Michigan State continued to play strong, with only 4 turnovers in the final 20 minutes, after having 8 turnovers in the first half. They also had much less foul trouble, as no player hit the dangerous 4 fouls. Much effort was seen by the entire team to pull out this win. Travis Trice contributed 11 points, and Adreian Payne added 14, but Harris led the team at his best with a total of 20 points for the Spartans as well as 32 minutes of playing time. Gary Harris also sunk a total of 5 three-pointers bring the game out of reach for Loyola in the final minutes.
Confident with a lead of 72-58 with a 1:07 to play, Coach Tom Izzo brought in Russell Byrd and Matt Costello to finish out the game. They each got a minute of playing time and Byrd even contributed with a shot, bringing the game to 73-61, where it remained as the clock ran out.
Though getting the victory, it was much closer than the two previous games for the Spartans, only allowing 39 and 44 points. “It was a tough game,” Izzo said. “We didn’t play great. We didn’t play bad. We had a couple of rough stretches with really foolish turnovers. But we took a little step in the right direction.”
Next week, Loyola will take on Mississippi State as a revival of their historic game in 1963, after getting the chance to visit East Lansing, where the original game took place. Loyola head coach, Porter Moser tries to use this visit to inspire his team, saying “you can’t forget great moments”. In regard to the game, he said, “I’m just happy to be close and compete at this level”.
The Michigan State Spartans will take on Tuskegee at the Breslin Center on Dec. 15 at 9:00 p.m. ET in attempt to continue their undefeated home streak. Spartan fans get ready, because Izzo has implied a great future for the program saying, “We have to play a little more passionately. We will.”