Michigan State basketball sparked by Max Christie, Marcus Bingham Jr. to beat Butler 73-52

INDIANAPOLIS — Butler made things tough for Michigan State basketball in its first visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse in a half-century. So did the hostile sellout crowd.

The Spartans didn’t help themselves at times, either.

But despite the Spartans’ unforced turnovers and early missed shots from long range, MSU’s new-look lineup also showed moments of continued promise in a 73-52 victory over Butler in the Gavitt Tipoff Games on Wednesday night.

Freshman shooting guard Max Christie looked dominant at times, going to the basket aggressively off the dribble and hitting from outside to finish with a season-high 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Michigan State center Marcus Bingham Jr. dunks the ball during the first half in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

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Marcus Bingham Jr. continued the strong start to his senior season with an all-around performance. The 7-footer blocked a career-high six shots to go with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting — all in the paint — and six rebounds in 19 minutes.

And Gabe Brown recovered from a brutal first half in which he went 1-for-6 from 3-point range to score 11 of his 19 points in the second half, as his outside shot started falling.

MSU used a 13-2 run early in the second half, sparked by 3-pointers from Christie and Brown and a 3-point play through hard contact from Bingham, to recover, then didn’t allow the Bulldogs to get back within single-digits.

The Spartans (2-1) host Eastern Michigan on Saturday at Breslin Center (5 p.m.).

It was MSU’s first regular-season game against Butler (3-1) and first visit to Hinkle since a 77-71 nonconference win on Dec. 20, 1971. The Spartans are now 14-11 all-time against the Bulldogs, with their previous meeting a Butler win in the national semifinal at the 2010 Final Four across town at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The first half turned into a physical slog filled with plenty of self-created mistakes.

The Spartans started as the aggressors and raced out to a 22-8 lead on Christie’s pullup jumper from the elbow with 10:45 left in the first half. The freshman hit four of his five shots, including a 3-pointer, and had a game-leading nine points at halftime. Bingham was active early on the boards, clogging passing lanes with his long arms on Butler drives and swatting shots when the Bulldogs challenged him in the paint. And Brown scored off the dribble and attacking the paint as his deep shots refused to fall.

Story continues

After opening the game 8-for-11, MSU found the iron unkind. The Spartans made just three of their final 15 shots in the half, with Brown and Joey Hauser combining to go 1-for-11 from 3-point range.

Michigan State guard Max Christie looks to pass around Butler guard Jair Bolden in the first half in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

Butler fared little better, going 5-for-16 from behind the arc in the half and just 8-for-31 overall. Turnovers also proved to be a problem throughout the opening 20 minutes for both teams, with each team committing nine as MSU carried a 31-23 lead into half.

Eastern Michigan transfer Ty Groce, a Ypsilanti native, had five points and seven rebounds with two steals at the half for the Bulldogs. The 6-8 forward led Butler with 15 points and eight rebounds, but he was just 4-for-13 from the field.

After Brown’s sluggish start, the 6-8 swingman found his shooting rhythm after halftime. He opened the half with a 3-pointer and went 3-for-4 from behind the arc before going to the bench. Brown finished 6-for-13.

The Spartans shot just under 47% for the game while holding Butler under 30% overall. MSU outrebounded the Bulldogs, 41-25, and had a 24-10 scoring edge in the paint and 10-0 advantage on the fastbreak.

Contact Chris Solari: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball sparked by Max Christie to beat Butler 73-52


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