You probably remember the articles that were written before Christmas about the problems regarding MSU men's basketball.

Both were critical to various degrees about the team and it's future this season.

Well since then, as the title suggests, the team has come out of the nosedive and regained altitude.  They've won five straight games after starting 4-5 and 0-2 in Big Ten play.

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That includes Thursday night's 92-61 pasting of Penn State at the Breslin Center.  Senior center Malik Hall had his best game of the season, scoring 24 points in only 27 minutes of play.  Senior guard Tyson Walker added 22 points, 6 steals, and 5 assists.

So, what's the reason for the winning streak??  Several reasons...

THE WIN OVER BAYLOR WAS HUGE

MSU jumped on then-6th ranked Baylor at the start, and then just kicked their ass after that.  The 88-64 victory over the Bears back on December 16th doesn't indicate how dominant the Spartans were in that game (Translation:  It wasn't even that close).

That win seemed to have given State some much-needed confidence.

AS A RESULT, THEY'RE PLAYING HARDER AND BETTER

And they've needed to.  The wins over Oakland and especially Indiana State are very credible wins.  They had to play well in those games, and they did.  For the most part.

TYSON WALKER HAS EMERGED AS THE "DAWG"

You hear the term "Spartan Dawg" all the time these days.  It is a term of endearment if you're a Spartan fan.  And sixth-year senior guard Tyson Walker has clearly shown that he is the team's best player.  He is the "lead dawg", if you will (In Dusty Rhodes voice).  Walker is averaging 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.  He needs to keep it up if State wants to do anything this season.

However,

THEY'RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET

Far from it.  They're only 9-5 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten play.  And they have tough games coming up in the next week on the road.  At Northwestern on Sunday and at Illinois on Thursday are not easy contests.  If State can at least split those games, they'll be in good shape heading into winnable home games against Rutgers and Minnesota the following week.

Regaining altitude is one thing (and it's important).  But to get where they want to go (another deep run in the NCAA Tournament), they're going to have to play even better.

But they're in better shape than where they were a month ago.  And that's saying something.

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