Tom Izzo, Michigan State pick up another first-round win in March Madness, topping Mississippi State

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tyson Walker scored 19 points and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo picked up his 20th win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as his ninth-seeded Spartans beat eighth-seeded Mississippi State 69-51 on Thursday.

Michigan State improved to 20-6 in March Madness openers under Izzo, who is making his 26th straight NCAA Tournament appearance — an NCAA Division I record for a coach at one school.

Jaden Akins added 15 points and seven rebounds and Mailk Hall scored 10 points for the Spartans (20-14), who’ll face either top-seeded North Carolina or No. 16 seed Wagner on Saturday.

Freshman Josh Hubbard scored 15 points for the Bulldogs (21-14), who haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2021. Hubbard had just two points in the second half.

Both teams entered the tournament having lost five of seven games.

The Spartans, who led wire to wire, pushed the tempo early and jumped out to an 20-8 lead after hitting 4 of 7 shots from beyond the arc, including two from Walker.

The Bulldogs closed the gap to seven at halftime behind Hubbard, who had 13 points in the first half. But the Spartans began to pull away early in the second half, extending the lead to 14 behind Walker, who finished 7 of 12 from the field.

Down by double digits midway through the second half, the Bulldogs went to a half-court trap and found some success at first, turning over the Spartans twice. But Michigan State settled down. Xavier Booker and Tre Holloman hit 3s before Walker connected on another 3 from the right wing to push the lead to 17 with less than five minutes to go.

While the Spartans were knocking down shots, the Bulldogs struggled to convert potentially easy baskets in transition.

Even as the Bulldogs were attempting to make a late comeback, the Spartans corralled two offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and burn time off the clock.


Michigan State: The Spartans’ perimeter defense was suspect coming into the game, but they held the Bulldogs to 6-of-27 shooting from beyond the arc.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs wanted to play at a slower tempo, but were forced to speed up after falling behind early. Poor shooting hurt, but so did a lack of rebounding. They were beat 35-29 on the glass.


If the Tar Heels advance to the second round, they will have a significant home-court advantage over Michigan State. UNC’s home arena is less than a two-hour drive away.


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