Michigan State basketball has finally turned a corner

Michigan State players A.J. Hoggard (11), right, Tre Holloman (5), center, and Malik Hall (25)
Michigan State players A.J. Hoggard (11), right, Tre Holloman (5), center, and Malik Hall (25) / Robert Killips | Lansing State Journal /

Well into the month of December, it felt like something had to give. Michigan State basketball was just 4-5 on the year and desperate for a turnaround after losing on the road against Nebraska.

The Spartans looked like a defeated bunch and the offense was stagnant. It felt like Tyson Walker was the only player who could do anything on the offensive end of the floor. And it felt like there was no end in sight to that one-man offensive streak.

Then something changed against Baylor. The Spartans were scoring at will and other guys not named Walker were stepping up. They finished with 88 points against the No. 6 team in the country which was 9-0 at the time. This was a massive win for a team that desperately needed it.

However, to start Big Ten play, the Spartans were just 1-4 and it felt like they were headed for an NCAA Tournament-less season for the first time since the 1990s.

And then something clicked. The Spartans rattled off three straight wins after losing back-to-back games against Northwestern and Illinois before hitting a speed bump at Wisconsin. And then the Spartans won two more before losing a heartbreaker at Minnesota. Since then, Michigan State has three straight wins, including two road victories and a home win over No. 10 Illinois.

Michigan State has been able to win in a variety of ways.

Against Maryland on the road, the Spartans held a healthy first half lead, went silent in the second half, and then held on for a clutch two-point win. Against Michigan, the Spartans had to come from behind in the first half and they ended up winning by 19. Against Illinois, they were losing by eight late in the second half, but they went on a huge run to win 88-80. The Penn State road win was dominant from the get-go and the result was never in doubt. And finally, the win at Michigan was ugly and the Spartans maybe played a C+ game and still won.

This team has turned a corner for a variety of reasons.

One, they're taking rebounding more seriously. Two, Malik Hall and Jaden Akins have really stepped up to take the pressure off Tyson Walker. Three, the team's 3-point shooting has drastically improved. And four, winning on the road is no longer a daunting task for these veterans.

Michigan State looks like a team that can make a deep run in March, winning eight of 10 games in the Big Ten which includes three road victories and a top-10 win.

Let's see if they can keep the ball rolling in the final five games as they will be favored in four of them.