How Michigan State basketball beat Mississippi State and what it means

Michigan State v Mississippi State
Michigan State v Mississippi State / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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Michigan State basketball led wire-to-wire as it took down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 69-51 in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs cut the lead to two with 14 minutes left in the first half only for the Spartans to go on a 10-0 run and never looked back.

Tom Izzo had a lot of talk this week about the tournament being a new season and leaving the regular season in the past and man, did this team look different than the team that couldn't close out Ohio State or Indiana. It was everything we thought this team could be: shot-making, rebounding, and toughness.

Let's take a deeper dive into how the Spartans were able to win their sixth straight round of 64 game and set up a Saturday matchup with North Carolina.

Offense, offense, offense

While 69 points may not seem like a lot, it was the second-most the Spartans have scored in the entire month of March (the other being against Minnesota). It's also important to not just look at the score, it's important to see how those points were scored and who scored them.

Jaden Akins finally played like Jaden Akins: 3-pointers, dunks, a steal, and a huge block on a Josh Hubbard breakaway. His shooting percentage was finally in the 40s after hanging in the 20s for far too long and even admitted to his coach that he was shooting the team out of games. While there were many other issues that were costing the Spartans, when Akins gets hot, it's easy for the rest of the team to feed off his energy.

Another veteran who was key to the victory was Tyson Walker, whose shooting efficiency (19 points on just 12 shots) is exactly where it needs to be. It's no secret that the Spartans lose when he scores more than 26 points and when he has to be the volume shooter for the team, it usually means nothing else is going right offensively. His 3-ball returned, he made layups, made buckets in transition, and hit his free throws. Like Akins, he was exactly the player we knew he could be, but was a shell of himself the last month.

The offense really didn't look any different than it has all season, the only difference was that the Spartans actually hit their open shots, and when they do, they are one of the best teams in the country.