East Lansing, MI
The #2 Michigan State Spartans came into their final non-conference regular season game with a full head of steam. Riding a 12 game winning streak and almost assuredly moving up to #1 in the nation with a win, they took care of their business. For the fourth straight game, the Spartans scored over 100 points with a 108-52 blowout of Savannah State. It was also the Spartans 14th win of the year, all of them by double digits.
Six Spartans scored in double digits. Nick Ward led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds while fellow sophomore Miles Bridges also added a double-double with 19 points and 21 rebounds. Rounding out the double-digit scorers was Matt McQuaid with 14, Cassius Winston with 16, Jaren Jackson had 10 and Joshua Langford had 11. This was the third straight game where the MSU starters all were in double digits.
Horace Broadnax is the head coach of SSU and he also knows a thing or two about championship teams. He was the point guard on the Georgetown Hoyas 1984 national championship winning team. I asked him to put into his perspective how good Michigan State is.
He said, “I think they are really good. They are always going to be good with Tom Izzo. They are going to be good with several guys that will play on the next level and Coach Izzo will have them ready. It is hard to get up for Savannah State. At Georgetown, we always hated to play against a team like us because you would overlook them. Coach (John) Thompson would always get on us for games like this. In the second half, they just wore us out. Coach Izzo is probably glad that the pre-season is over and that it is on to conference play. Big Ten Football doing real good in bowl season, seven and oh.”
Tom Izzo fully grasps how special this team is. He can’t let up because the biggest opponent on the Spartan schedule is themselves. He said of the contest, “We had nine or ten turnovers in the first nine minutes. We knew they would press us and we talked about the turnovers and they were so sloppy I couldn’t understand it. Halftime was another teaching moment. Then I thought we played better in the second half.”
While the MSU three-point defense struggled early and they had problems with turnovers in the first half, they recovered nicely. On the day MSU had 17 turnovers and won the battle of the boards 57-28. MSU once again showed off their unselfish side with 35 assists on 44 baskets. The lethal Spartan defense held SSU to just 26% shooting.
Izzo added, “What was exciting for me was Cassius (Winston) gets 13 assists and that is a career high and Miles (Bridges) got 21 rebounds and that is a career high and I am disappointed that Nick (Ward) didn’t miss a shot because I do not have anything to yell at him for tomorrow. This week things change a little bit (A return to Big Ten play).”
The highlight of the night had nothing to do with basketball. Prior to the game, nine veterans over the age of 90 were on the court for the start of the game. All were recognized and after the national anthem the Spartan players and staff stopped to shake all of their hands and thank them for their service to the greatest nation on earth. The crowd followed suit with a standing ovation.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday. They also will be returning to Big Ten action when they host Maryland. That game tips off at 8 PM and can be seen on FS1.
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