EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo gazed into the crowd, tears welling in his eyes, moments before his team played its first home game since a mass shooting on campus killed three students and hospitalized five students.
“It was one of those moments where I just said, `I’m a lucky guy,'” Izzo recalled as his voice cracked with emotion. “I said to myself, `I hope we can come through for you.'”
The Spartans did.
Tyson Walker shook off a slow start to score 23 points and lifted Michigan State to an 80-65 win over No. 17 Indiana on Tuesday night, eight days after a mass shooting ended lives, endangered others and frightened an entire community.
“It was definitely a emotional,” Walker said. “Everybody was involved in some way because everybody’s on campus. So, it was definitely good to go out there and play well for everybody.”
The Spartans (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) surged into the lead late in the first half after Walker started making 3-pointers following an 0-for-4 start from the field and were ahead by double digits for much of the second half.
“Izzo’s teams play great. They play hard,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “They force you to play hard. If you don’t meet that, you’re going to lose.”
The Hoosiers (19-9, 10-7) relied heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis, as usual, and he had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Michigan State had its previous home game against Minnesota postponed after the shootings and resumed playing Saturday night in a loss to rival Michigan on the road.
The victims, survivors and first responders from last week’s shootings were recognized with pregame remarks. There was also a moment of silence that was broken by the Michigan State band playing “MSU Shadows,” when Izzo looked left, right, high and low at fans in the stands.
“I wish I could have ran up to that top row and thank the people that were there,” Izzo said.
In the front row of the student section, white shirts were placed on eight seats to save them for the eight students shot on campus. The funeral for the last of the three students killed was earlier Tuesday.
The Spartans, after the emotional pregame, got off to a sluggish start before turning the game around with 3-pointers, defense and rebounding.
Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard had three turnovers early in the game, then didn’t have another turnover and finished with 22 points and five assists. Joey Hauser and Malik Hall each scored 10 points for the Spartans, who have won three of their last four games.
Jalen Hood-Schifino scored 16 and Trey Galloway had 11 points for the Hoosiers.
Indiana: The Hoosiers, who have lost two of their last three games, may have some work to do to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
Michigan State: After collapsing late against Michigan and returning to play at home on an emotional campus, Izzo’s team earned a much-needed win.
HE SAID IT
“As the game wore on, they smashed us and I don’t like that,” Woodson said.
IN THE FACE
Midway through the second half, Michigan State’s Mady Sissoko blocked Malik Reneau’s shot and the ball hit Kaleb Banks in the head so hard that he staggered and fell to the court.
Former Michigan State star Miles Bridges sat behind the team’s bench and said he may be back in the NBA soon, returning to play for the Charlotte Hornets.
“It’s been a long process,” Bridges told The Associated Press at halftime. “I might be back in March.”
Bridges has not played this season while under an NBA investigation. He pleaded no contest three months ago to a felony count of injuring a child’s parent, agreeing to do so in exchange for three years probation and no jail time.
Michigan State’s Carson Cooper missed the game after Izzo said the freshman center sprained his ankle during practice on Monday. Indiana senior guard Xavier Johnson is still out with a foot injury.
Indiana: Plays rival and fifth-ranked Purdue on the road Saturday night.
Michigan State: Travels to play Iowa on Saturday.