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  • Saturday, 24 February 2024
A week after tragedy, Spartans give Michigan State reason to smile

A week after tragedy, Spartans give Michigan State reason to smile

A week after the tragic death of basketball player Emoni Bates, the Michigan State Spartans gave the university and its fans something to smile about with a 79-68 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday.

Bates, who was just 17 years old, died in a car accident last week. The highly touted recruit was considered one of the best prospects in the country and was expected to make an immediate impact on the Spartans' roster next season.

The team played with heavy hearts in their first game following Bates' death, a 77-63 loss to Ohio State. But on Sunday, they rallied around each other and delivered an emotional victory that showed the resilience and character of the program.

"We've been through a lot this past week, and I'm just proud of the way we came out and fought today," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "I know Emoni would have been proud of us too."

The game was also significant for Michigan State senior forward Joey Hauser, who had a career-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. Hauser had been struggling with his shooting in recent games, but came through with a clutch performance when his team needed it most.

"I just wanted to go out there and play for Emoni and for my teammates," Hauser said. "We've all been through a lot, but we're a family and we're going to get through this together."

The win improves Michigan State's record to 16-9 on the season and keeps their hopes of making the NCAA tournament alive. The Spartans have four games remaining in the regular season, including a matchup with archrival Michigan on March 5th.

For Izzo and his team, the focus now is on continuing to honor Bates' memory and playing with the same level of intensity and heart that he would have brought to the court.

"He was a special young man, and we're going to miss him dearly," Izzo said. "But we're going to keep playing in his honor and doing everything we can to make him proud."

A week after the tragic death of basketball player Emoni Bates, the Michigan State Spartans gave the university and its fans something to smile about with a 79-68 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday.

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