The Spartans picked up their second-straight win, defeating Villanova by a final score of 73-71 to improve to 3-1 on the season.
The Wildcats have a first-year head coach in Kyle Neptune after longtime head coach Jay Wright retired.
“I give Kyle (Neptune) and his team a lot of credit,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said after the game. “It was a fistfight.
“We knew it would be a 12 to 15 round fight,” Izzo said. “I thought we had close to a knockout there at the 10-minute mark.”
Michigan State had its biggest lead of the game, 16 points, with 9:02 to play in the second half. Villanova came storming back and ended the game on a 28-14 run.
“For all the credit I got for doing things well down the stretch against Kentucky, I should get some blame for not handling stuff very well down the stretch today,” Izzo said.
“We did not execute very well,” Izzo said regarding his team’s performance late in the game. “We took some bad shots.”
Izzo did note that graduate forward Joey Hauser played “phenomenal early.” Hauser made five of his seven shots from the field and ended up with 13 points. He made four of his five shot attempts in the first half.
“We just didn’t go to him enough,” Izzo said about Hauser.
Senior guard Tyson Walker led the Spartans with 22 points. He also dished out five assists.
“Tyson Walker really wanted the ball at the end,” Izzo said. “He came through.”
Junior guard AJ Hoggard was two rebounds away from a triple-double. Hoggard had 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
“AJ (Hoggard) made some big plays,” Izzo said.
After posting 16 points on Tuesday against Kentucky, junior center Mady Sissoko struggled on Friday night against Villanova.
“Mady (Sissoko) has faced three different kinds of centers,” Izzo said about the last three games. “Mady had his hands full.”
Sophomore guard Jaden Akins made the crowd at the Breslin Center erupt with a one-handed dunk in traffic.
Akins was hurt in the second half. Izzo did not have the specifics on the injury, but he noted that it was his “knee or ankle”, and he doesn’t know if it is serious or not.
Turnovers continue to be a main point of concern. The Spartans had 12 turnovers tonight. Akins, Hoggard and senior forward Malik Hall had three turnovers each.
“There’s going to be consequences to turnovers now,” Izzo said. “You’re going to see some guys come out of the games for turnovers.”
This game concluded a seven-day stretch where Michigan State lost to No. 2 Gonzaga by one point on an aircraft carrierbeat No. 4 Kentucky in double overtime and beat Villanova at home.
“When I look at this week, it’s the most memorable week in my whole career,” Izzo said.
The official attendance at the Breslin Center for the win over Villanova was 14,797.
“It reminded me of the old days,” Izzo said about the Breslin Center crowd. “It was so good to see.”
Michigan State will be back on the court on Thursday, Nov. 24 against No. 18 Alabama in Portland, Oregon. Tipoff will be at 10:30 pm ET and the game will be aired on ESPN.