Michigan State vs. Gonzaga score, takeaways: No. 2 Bulldogs, Drew Timme overcome slow start to beat Spartans

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No. 2 Gonzaga roared back from a 12-point deficit in the second half Friday night for a thrilling 64-63 win over Michigan State in the first college basketball game played on an aircraft carrier in a decade. The USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego hosted the matchup to highlight the opening week of the season in the Armed Forces Classic Carrier Edition, and the unique setting delivered in a big way.

While the spectacle of a game played aboard a gargantuan Navy vessel provided entertainment value in its own right, the game itself stole the show. The Spartans commanded the action early and led 45-33 early in the second half, but then Drew Timme took over. Gonzaga's senior forward led all scorers with 22 points and 13 rebounds as he put the Bulldogs on his back down the stretch. The CBS Sports Preseason Player of the Year went to work against everyone Michigan State threw at him, helping to draw five fouls from both of the Spartans' frontcourt starters, including Michigan State center Mady Sissoko. The junior scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds but was limited to just 11 minutes in the second half and fouled out with 1:51 remaining. Without him on the floor, the Spartans failed to score in the game's final few possessions. 

A last-second shot from Jaden Akins from the top of the key bounced off the mark, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with a victory from the memorable Veterans Day showdown.

It took time, but Timme shines late

For casual college basketball fans tuning in to the sport for the first time this season, the reaction to seeing Timme on the floor may have been, "wow, that guy is still playing?" The answer is yes, and if his performance was any indication, Timme may take his game to even higher heights this season. When the Zags desperately needed a spark, he provided one both in terms of his emotional on-court displays and tangible production. Timme scored 11 points in the final 7:02 and never left the floor in the second half while earning the game's MVP honor.

It was only when fellow Gonzaga bigs Anton Watson and Efton Reid were each on the bench with four fouls that Timme truly found his rhythm. Once he had space to operate, he was essentially impossible for Michigan State to defend.

Spartans need a star

Michigan State returns no double figure scorers from last season's team, and it's unclear if there will be a go-to guy who emerges for this version of the Spartans. While Sissoko's career-high offensive performance was an unexpected help, it proved to be an unsustainable source of production for Michigan State. Junior guard A.J. Hoggard attacked the paint relentlessly and scored seven points at the free-throw line in the second half for the Spartans, but he was 0 for 5 from the field in the half. 

Michigan State finished without a point in the game's final 2:07, and the lack of an offensive alpha was obviously part of the problem. Senior forward Joey Hauser, who scored a team-high 18 points in a season-opening win on Monday, fouled out with 4:46 remaining without having scored a point. There was plenty to like about how the Spartans began the game with interior toughness and defensive tenacity. Those traits led to some transition baskets. But the team's offensive questions were on display down the stretch.

Paying tribute

In postgame interviews with ESPN, Timme and Gonzaga coach Mark Few spoke glowingly of the experience of playing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. While the "Carrier Classic" series played back in 2011 and 2012 drew mixed reviews, partially because weather issues interfered in a couple of contests, this one went off without a hitch. Temperatures were in the low-to-mid 60s for the game, skies were clear and the wind was calm. The unusual setting had a clear impact on the game's outside shooting as Michigan State and Gonzaga combined to make just 7 of 34 attempts from 3-point range. But all in all, the return to playing aboard an aircraft carrier seemed to be a smashing hit.

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Gonzaga survives

Final: Gonzaga 64, Michigan State 63

What a game to highlight college basketball's opening week. Gonzaga rallies from a 12-point deficit in the second half behind another epic performance from Drew Timme. Jaden Akins attempted a contested 3-pointer from the top of the key in the final seconds, but it bounced off, allowing the Bulldogs to survive. Timme led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds. 

November 12, 2022, 2:01 AM
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November 12, 2022, 1:58 AM
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Down to the wire

With under a minute to go, Gonzaga has a 64-63 lead. Sissoko and Hauser have fouled out for Michigan State, leaving Michigan State with an undersized lineup as it tries to deal with Drew Timme down the stretch.

November 12, 2022, 1:57 AM
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Zags ahead

Gonzaga has a lead for the first time since early in the first half. Bulldogs have taken all the momentum with Drew Timme leading the way. Just made a big outback to make it 63-61. This small lineup without Reid or Watson accommodates Gonzaga quite well as it has opened up the floor and allowed Timme room to work.

November 12, 2022, 1:48 AM
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Hauser out

Rough night for Joey Hauser, who fouls out without a point. He led the Spartans with 18 in their season opener but was MIA from the tip tonight with a pair of early fouls. His exit forces Sissoko back onto the floor with four fouls.

November 12, 2022, 1:43 AM
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November 12, 2022, 1:41 AM
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Timme flexing

Gonzaga's star is doing his thing on the biggest of stages — an actual aircraft carrier — here and willing the Zags back from a double-digit deficit. Tie game with 5 minutes to play. He's got 18 and 11.

November 12, 2022, 1:41 AM
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Michigan State foul trouble

Reid and Watson have each had four for a while now, but Sissoko and Malik Hall are in the same boat now for Michigan State. Both teams in the bonus with under 7 to go. These are the moments when you wonder who the alpha will be for Michigan State. Sissoko has been great tonight, but he's on the bench and might not be the go-to guy in clutch moments.

November 12, 2022, 1:37 AM
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Offensive stalemate

After something of an offensive flurry to begin the second half, both teams went cold here in the middle of the half. But Strawther brings the Zags within two with a pretty floater and Pierre Brooks responds with a 3. Strawther is lethal in that 6-10 foot range with the float game. Looks like it'll come down to the wire.

November 12, 2022, 1:29 AM
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November 12, 2022, 1:28 AM
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Good ball game!

Michigan State's first made field goal of the half comes at the 12:03 mark on a Tyson Walker layup. Sissoko is re-entering after the u12 timeout just as Efton Reid picks up his fourth. Wouldn't be surprised if Michigan State attacks Timme and tries to get him to pick up his third foul.

November 12, 2022, 1:18 AM
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Here come the Zags

It's a 9-0 for Gonzaga. Surprised to see Sissoko still on the bench out of a timeout as the Zags are making hay attacking the basket. Timme and Strawther are putting this team on their back.

November 12, 2022, 1:14 AM
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Picking on Kohler

Gonzaga's gameplan is simple: pass the ball to whoever true freshman Jaxon Kohler is guarding. Izzo is high on him, but this is a tough moment to be needed as a true freshman, and the Zags are licking their chops whenever they get him in 1-on-1 situations.

November 12, 2022, 1:12 AM
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Sissoko's third

Izzo sent Sissoko to the bench after he picked up his third. Guy has been dominant, so maybe a chance for Gonzaga to make up some ground while he's out. Zags are going to have to hit some outside shots at some point to get all the way back into this thing though. Tough place to need outside shooting.

November 12, 2022, 1:08 AM
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Double digits

The Gonzaga haters are going to have a field day if this holds. Zags look awful. Can't stop fouling defensively and can't stop turning the basketball over offensively. Down 12 three minutes into the second half as Mark Few calls for time. With No. 1 North Carolina down to Charleston at halftime, both the nation's top-ranked teams are in danger tonight.

November 12, 2022, 1:02 AM
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November 12, 2022, 12:58 AM
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Sissoko strong

Sissoko has drawn two quick fouls on Anton Watson early in the half, sending him to the bench with four fouls. Spartans are just tougher than Gonzaga on the interior. No way around it. Sissoko is one board away from his first-ever double-double.

November 12, 2022, 12:58 AM
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Foul trouble 

Michigan State scored 26 of its 38 points in the paint during the first half. The two quick fouls on Efton Reid were a low-key killer for Gonzaga, because he may be their best rim protector this season. The LSU transfer logged just four minutes. Mark Few had to go deep into the bench and play Ben Gregg once Drew Timme picked up his second.

November 12, 2022, 12:51 AM
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Great half for Michigan State

Half: Michigan State 38, Gonzaga 31

With Joey Hauser playing just six minutes due to foul trouble, Mady Sissoko delivered for the Spartans with 10 points and seven rebounds in the half. With Drew Timme and Efton Reid dealing with foul trouble of their own for Gonzaga, Sissoko feasted. Spartans were the more physical team in the first half.

November 12, 2022, 12:39 AM
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November 12, 2022, 12:36 AM
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November 12, 2022, 12:33 AM
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