East Lansing, MI
The #1 Michigan State Spartans came into this Big Ten tilt tonight with a 13 game winning streak and four games in a row of scoring 100+ points. While they didn’t hit the century mark, they did extend their winning streak by taking out the Maryland Terrapins 91-61. It wasn’t that close. As with all of their wins this season, the Spartans continued to take down their opponents by double digits.
In fairness, the Terrapins were short-handed by injury, but make no mistake the Spartans are the #1 team in the nation and tonight they played like it. Even a fully staffed Terp team wouldn’t have survived this. Terrapin Coach Mark Turgeon said, “Even if we had five more guys tonight (they are down one starter and a backup) I am not sure it would have made a difference. We played as best as we could for the first four minutes and I looked up and we were down.”
Kenny Goins was making threes and blocking shots, Xavier Tillman owned the paint on the offensive end, the Spartans showed off their depth for a national television audience. MSU had ten players in their regular rotation and all ten scored. It was a blitzkrieg on both ends.
Four Spartans scored in double digits on the scorer’s sheet. Nick Ward led the way with 16 points. Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges each had 15 and Cassius Winston had 10 points and eight assists. MSU had only seven turnovers and held the Terrapins to 38% compared to their 57%. The Spartans also shot an astonishing 57% from three.
Coach Tom Izzo said of the contest, “Interesting game. I thought they played awfully well early. Then we clamped down defensively and got our running game going. The most impressive stats for us was seven turnovers. Our guys are more impressed with that than anything.”
Turgeon said of this Spartan team that, “I thought Michigan State was terrific all night. Tonight they were good. I can count on one hand losses like that and I have been doing this a long time. (Turgeon has a career record of 401-231) To be that deep and shoot the ball from all positions. What separates them this year is that they are really guarding you and you get nothing easy. They played out of their mind and shot out of their mind tonight. We couldn’t do anything. They kept making shot after shot after shot.”
These Spartans are amazingly unselfish. On 32 made baskets the Spartan had 30 assists. That is amazing. I asked Izzo about that stat and he added, “30 assists on 32 baskets. The kind of team I have. The most unselfish team around. We looked like a basketball team tonight and we beat a very good team.”
The biggest opponent left on the MSU regular season schedule is themselves. There are some really good teams in the B1G, but this year NO ONE can beat them without some help FROM THEM. That isn’t being a homer or speaking in hyperbole that is plain and simple facts.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday in Columbus, OH. That game with the Buckeyes tips off at 4:30 PM and can be seen on CBS. With the win tonight the Spartans are now 15-1 (3-0) on the season.
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