Michigan State men's basketball opened Big Ten play on Thursday night with a 75-67 victory on the road at Minnesota.

Gabe Brown, Tyson Walker, and Malik Hall each had 15 points for the Spartans while Joey Hauser added 10.

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So the question beckons....Is Michigan State men's basketball better than we thought?

Well, they certainly don't rely on just one guy to score the points like they did last year with Aaron Henry.  Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are averaging double figures scoring so far.  But other guys have contributed like Malik Hall and freshman Max Christie.

The point guard position, a major problem last year, seems to have been stabilized with sophomore A.J. Hoggard and transfer Tyson Walker.

The bench also seems to be better than last year.  Head coach Tom Izzo likes to play 9 or 10 guys in his player rotation.  And he has enough talent to do that effectively this year.  It's helped them to an 8-2 overall record, with losses only Kansas (first game of the year) and Baylor (in the finals of the Battle for Atlantis).

So, I guess that's a long way to answer the original question.  Is MSU men's basketball better than we thought?  So far, YES!!!  But there are potholes to avoid...

Turnovers continue to be a problem.  They average over 15 a game.  And you know, considering how MSU plays defense, that foul trouble will continue to be an issue (although not as much against Minnesota, to be fair.  They committed only 12 fouls).

And of course, the Big Ten schedule won't be easy.  Michigan twice, Illinois twice, etc.  They only play Purdue once, and it's at home (that's a break).

So, we'll find out shortly after the first of the year if the early indications are valid, or if they're a phantom.  Either way, they're a lot more fun to watch than they were last year.  And that's good for Spartan fans watching this winter.

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