EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Michigan State’s basketball coach, Tom Izzo, came out and said what every Spartan fan was thinking following his team’s 80-70 win over Notre Dame on Saturday night.
“What a great day to be a Spartan,” said Izzo. “I got to watch a little bit of that football game and I’m so proud of Mel (Tucker). Our defense was unbelievable and Rocky, (Lombardi) nice job. Then I find out our hockey team beat Ohio State.”
It was one of those special, and rare, Saturday’s on MSU’s campus, with football kicking off earlier in the day at 3:30 p.m. followed by the basketball game at 8 p.m. and in the midst of all of the excitement there was just one thing missing. The fans.
“As I was sitting in my office, towards the end of the football game before I went down, and I’m thinking, ‘What a beautiful night.’ There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a great night for football and I was thinking, ‘Boy, if they were coming from football to basketball this place would be rockin’ (as in the Breslin).”
It would have been rockin’ for sure. Especially when MSU decided to go on a 26-0 run. The Spartans (2-0) closed the first half with a 17-0 run over seven-plus minutes and scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 22-point lead.
“I didn’t realize we had a 26-0 run against a good team,” said Izzo. Shows you I was more ingrained in what we were doing right and wrong, but at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, I thought that ball moved just about as good as it could be moved. It was kind of fun to watch us play and I don’t say that very often.”
The Fighting Irish put up a good fight before MSU’s run, leading 26-22, but then MSU turned up the heat defensively, holding Notre Dame scoreless for nine-plus minutes. MSU had 10 blocked shots and six steals in the first half, finishing with 12 blocks and nine steals total.
“I thought we really bared down,” said Izzo. I thought we were everywhere. I thought we wore them down a little bit by subbing like we did and that was very advantageous to us and as that half wore on I think we wore them down a little bit.”
Aaron Henry paved the way with 14 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Joey Hauser added 10 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Rocket Watts had 13 points and six assists, and Marcus Bingham added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
Next up the Spartans will travel to Durham to take on No. 9 Duke in the coveted Champions Classic. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.