EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo gazed into the crowd, tears welling in his eyes, moments before his team played its first home game since a mass shooting on campus killed three students and hospitalized five more.
“It was one of those moments where I just said, ‘I’m a lucky guy,'” Izzo recalled as his voice cracked with emotion. “I said to myself, ‘I hope we can come through for you.'”
The Spartans did.
Tyson Walker shook off a slow start to score 23 points and lifted Michigan State to an 80-65 win over No. 17 Indiana on Tuesday night, eight days after the shooting ended lives, endangered others and frightened an entire community.
“It was definitely emotional,” Walker said. “Everybody was involved in some way because everybody’s on campus. So, it was definitely good to go out there and play well for everybody.”
The Spartans (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) surged into the lead late in the first half after Walker started making 3-pointers following an 0-for-4 start from the field, and were ahead by double digits for much of the second half.
“Izzo’s teams play great. They play hard,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “They force you to play hard. If you don’t meet that, you’re going to lose.”
The Hoosiers (19-9, 10-7) relied heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis, as usual, and he had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Michigan State men’s basketball team had its previous home game against Minnesota postponed after the shooting and resumed playing Saturday night in a loss to rival Michigan on the road. The Spartans women’s team returned to their home court Saturday in a loss to Maryland.
The victims, survivors and first responders from the shooting were recognized with pregame remarks Tuesday night. There was also a moment of silence that was broken by the Michigan State band playing “MSU Shadows,” when Izzo looked left, right, high and low at fans in the stands.
“I wish I could have ran up to that top row and thank the people that were there,” Izzo said.
In the front row of the student section, white shirts were placed on eight seats for the eight students shot on campus. The funeral for the last of the three students killed was earlier Tuesday.
The Spartans, after the emotional pregame, got off to a sluggish start before turning the game around with 3-pointers, defense and rebounding.
Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard had three turnovers early in the game, then didn’t have another turnover and finished with 22 points and five assists. Joey Hauser and Malik Hall each scored 10 points for the Spartans, who have won three of their past four games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.