Michigan State basketball loses to Rutgers 61-55: Game thread replay

Michigan State Spartans (14-8, 6-5 Big Ten) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (15-7, 7-4)

When: Noon Saturday.

Where: Madison Square Garden in New York.

TV: Fox.

Radio: WJR-AM (760).

Betting line: Scarlet Knights by 4½.

Box score

Game notes: If there’s a matchup on the Big Ten hoops schedule that’s the embodiment of the meme of Spider-Man pointing at his identical Spider-man, it’s when the Spartans and Scarlet Knights tip off. Both squads have build their identities around hard-nosed play inside — Rutgers outrebounds opponents by 4.8 a game, while MSU has a 3.4-board-per-game advantage — and veteran guard play.

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The Scarlet Knights are led by guard Cam Spencer, who’s averaging 13.6 points and 3.7 assists a game; the 6-foot-4 senior is in his first year in Piscataway after starring for Loyola Marymount last season. He made the All-Patriot League first team last season … but he may not even be the best athlete in his family. That honor might go to Spencer’s brother, Pat, who starred in lacrosse at LMU — including being named the top LAX player in the nation in 2019 — before transferring to Northwestern to play basketball in 2019-20. (Pat stuck with hoops after college; he’s suiting up for Santa Cruz of the G League these days.)

The Spartans, of course, are powered by Tyson Walker, who transferred from Northeastern of the CAA before last season. The New York native is averaging 13.9 points and 2.6 assists in 33.3 minutes per game for MSU.

Walker won the battle between the two in the Spartans’ previous matchup with the Scarlet Knights; he put up 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting (though he didn’t have an assist) while Spencer had eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. Walker also got the “W,” as MSU handled Rutgers, 70-57, in East Lansing on Jan. 19.

The Spartans won’t have much time to rest up after their visit to New York; they’re due back at Breslin for a Tuesday-night (9 p.m.!) tipoff against Maryland. The Scarlet Knights, meanwhile, will hit the road, too, with a Tuesday matchup against Indiana in Bloomington.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball loses to Rutgers 61-55: Game thread