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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Historic season comes to an end as Michigan State knocks off Marquette in Round of 32

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Marquette men’s basketball knew what was on the line heading into its second-round matchup against Michigan State. 

It was an opportunity to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013. 

However, the 2-seeded Golden Eagles were unable to hold off the 7-seeded Michigan State Spartans (21-12) as it fell 69-60 inside Nationwide Arena Sunday night. 

“I thought our guys showed incredible character and fight to bring us back from being down 13 early to having a three-point lead in the first round of the second half,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “Offensively, just not one of our best games. Michigan State’s aggressiveness and their physicality affected us. It was a lot of plays we’d love to have back.” 

Turnover troubles cost game 

Marquette’s defense forces a lot of turnovers, but today, the Golden Eagles were having their own troubles taking care of the ball. 

The Golden Eagles committed 16 total turnovers, 11 of which came in the second half alone. At one point, Marquette turned over the ball nine times in a nine minute stretch.

“It felt like we never got into a rhythm,” junior guard Tyler Kolek said. “16 turnovers, that’s unlike us. If you turn the ball over, you’re not going to get a shot up because it’s going the other way. They were more aggressive than we were.” 

In the final 30 seconds of the game, sophomore guard Kam Jones committed a turnover that allowed Michigan State senior guard Tyson Walker to slam down his first collegiate dunk on the other end.

Walker’s dunk sealed the win for the Spartans as they went on to hit five of their last six shots from the floor.

“We beat a good team,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “But I am so proud of these guys for withstanding that, because that was as intense and tough a game as I’ve been in my career. And a lot of credit goes to Marquette and Shaka and how they played, too.” 

Statistical leaders

Junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper led Marquette with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting.  Jones chipped in 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc.  

Kolek, who was battling a right thumb injury, had an unprecedented night as he was held to seven points. He also turned over the ball six times, tying a season-high. 

“We’re not even in this position if it’s not for Tyler,” Smart said. “He’s been phenomenal all year. He’s been a great leader. Beyond any of the statistics, beyond being Big East Player of the Year, he’s a winner. Today does not define him.”

 Walker took over Michigan State’s offense, scoring 17 of his 23 total points in the second half. The Westbury, New York native had zero turnovers in the contest.

“I think this whole year I’ve been doing a good job just not taking chances with my passes, staying under control,” Walker said. “And down the stretch, everybody just said to give me the ball at key times. And I made big plays.”

Graduate student Joey Hauser recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. 

First half Spartan domination

Right from the start, Michigan State had its foot on the gas pedal.

The Spartans went on a 14-1 run to begin the contest with contributions from five different players. Marquette’s offense, meanwhile, could not catch up as it shot 30% from the floor and scored only eight points in the first 10 minutes.  

Michigan State’s size and physicality haunted Marquette in the first half, as it out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 20-12 overall and 7-3 on the offensive glass in the half.

“We were just trying to play our game, play aggressive, make officials make decisions when we’re at the rim,” junior guard A.J. Hoggard said. “Coach told us to be aggressive, put pressure on those guys to make it harder for them when they get on offense, make them have to guard as well. I think we did a good job of that tonight.” 

Defensive spark falls short

As its offense picked up in the final minutes of the first half, so did Marquette’s defense.

The Golden Eagles did not allow the Spartans to score for over two minutes in the last part of the half, which gave their offense the spark it needed.

With 1:09 remaining in the half, Marquette’s defense forced a Michigan State clock violation and its offense responded with a 6-0 run with made 3-pointers from Prosper and first-year forward Ben Gold. 

The Spartans led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the Golden Eagles clawed their way back to get within five points heading into the locker room. 

“Tonight, Michigan State deserves credit,” Smart said. “They came at us with aggressiveness. We got off to a tough start. I thought we expended a lot of energy digging out of that hole. Maybe that impacted our energy down the stretch.” 

This defense did not carry over into the second half as Michigan State went on to outscore Marquette 36-32 in the second half.

Marquette finished the season with a 29-7 overall record and 17-3 in the Big East conference.

Smart spoke on what the offseason and the next season holds for this Marquette team.

“It’s about coming back together after that and remembering why you chose to do this in the first place,” Smart said. “And then getting better. Our program’s about relationships. Our program’s about growth and our program’s about victory. And this group has done a phenomenal job honoring those things. Tonight’s result doesn’t take away from that one bit.” 

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at @[email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.  

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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