Weary Michigan State basketball can't keep up with Notre Dame in 70-52 loss




SOUTH BEND, Ind. - All of the hyper focus, all of the enthusiastic energy, all of the necessary grittiness. Nowhere to be found.

And on the final day of a November to remember, Michigan State basketball put together a performance to forget.

Notre Dame blitzed the 20th-ranked Spartans from the outset Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, dialing in from deep and taxing MSU's already weary legs in a 70-52 thrashing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Cormac Ryan scorched the nets from outside in the first half, finishing with 23 points to help the Irish (6-1) build a 23-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. JJ Starling added 14 points, Dane Goodwin 12 and Nate Laszewski added nine points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Cormac Ryan celebrates during the first half on Wednesday, Nov.  

The Irish shot 50% from the floor and made 11 of 26 from 3-point range, including eight from deep in the first half.

A.J. Hoggard 15 points on 5 of 13 shooting to lead MSU (6-2), which last won at Notre Dame on Feb. 5, 1975, and Wednesday was just the second at Joyce Center since that game. Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser each scored 12 but made just 9 of 26 shots between them, while Hauser and Mady Sissoko combined for 15 of MSU's 29 rebounds.

The Spartans shot just 38.9% from the field and went 4 for 12 from 3-point range.

They host Northwestern to open Big Ten play Sunday, the first of two December league games. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Breslin Center in East Lansing (BTN).

Guard Jaden Akins (left foot) went through early warmups but did not play for the fourth straight game. Forward Malik Hall also missed his fourth straight game with a left foot injury and is not expected to return until later in December.

Irish blitz 'em early

All of the things the Spartans did in a first month of the season that had them a bit ahead of where Tom Izzo thought they would be vanished early in their seventh game in 19 days.

It was noticeable on the defensive end, where MSU's guards struggled to get around screens and arrived late on rotational help. That allowed the Irish to bury eight first-half 3-pointers, including a scorching 5-for-5 from Ryan. The 6-5 guard also took Spartans off the dribble into the paint, dropping 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

MSU's lethargic legs also showed on offense, particularly in getting outscored, 14-2, in the paint at one point and failing to establish post-up position against the undersized six-man rotation Irish coach Mike Brey uses. The Spartans settled for a number of long jumpers and shot a meager 37% from the floor while making 2-for-7 from deep.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo reacts against Notre Dame during the first half on Wednesday, Nov.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo reacts against Notre Dame during the first half on Wednesday, Nov.  

That combination led to MSU trailing at one point by 23 points on an eight-point run from Ryan that included a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which caused Izzo to burn a timeout with 4:31 before half.

Hauser had eight points with four rebounds, and both Walker and Hoggard scored seven at the break as the Irish led convincingly, 42-24.

Slight spark in second half extinguished quickly

Izzo's frustration with Pierre Brooks II's defense led to him starting grad transfer walk-on Jason Whitens after halftime.

That delivered a bit of a spark, as Hoggard scored MSU's first six points out of the break and assisted on Walker's driving layup, which pulled the Spartans within 15.

But Ryan drained a 3-pointer to give breathing room after MSU failed to cut it further with four empty possessions. The Spartans pulled to within 14 twice, the last time on a Mady Sissoko cross-paint assist to a cutting Carson Cooper and a put-back bucket for Sissoko. But Laszewski hit a 3-pointer over Hauser, then Hauser shot an airball at the other end and lost Laszewski for a dunk on defense as Notre Dame's lead once again swelled to 21.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Weary Michigan State basketball can't keep up with Notre Dame, 70-52

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