East Lansing, MI
The #4 Michigan State Spartans returned to their winning ways tonight dropping Rutgers for the second time this season 76-72 in overtime. With the win, the Spartans improve their record to 16-2 on the season and 4-1 in the Big Ten.
MSU had 19 assists on 21 baskets and lost the battle of the boards 40-36. MSU had 13 turnovers to Rutgers 12. Rutgers had 36 points in the paint compared to the Spartans 24. MSU shot a poor 74% from the charity stripe.
Michigan State Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo said of the contest, “The best thing of the night was when it ended. I was not very happy with how we played. I thought by far the best player on the court was Nick Ward. Shame is if you look on paper Jaren Jackson started better than anybody, but really got tired and run down.”
On the night Nick Ward led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds, another double-double. Jaren Jackson had 16 points and Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston each had 12. Rounding out the double-digit scorers was Miles Bridges who had 11. Bridges didn’t even score his first points until the 7:43 point of the second half.
Rutgers Coach Steven Pikiell said of the contest, “Great environment and great game. I thought we played hard and it was a great game. Michigan State is a terrific program and coach. Tip of the hat to them. They are a very physical team and we have tremendous respect for that. You have to do a lot of things well. I thought we played well, but again not enough.”
MSU shot 41% to Rutgers 40%. Bench points heavily favored Rutgers 22-8 which is amazing considering the Spartans depth.
Izzo added, “We didn’t respond very well. Better teams than us have had tough games. I wished we had responded better. I just don’t think things went really well for us. So to find a way to win our team deserves more credit. Nick battled all night. Our bigs did a better job than our guards. Tonight we played a well-coached team that is physical as the day is long. If I was watching and not coaching I would have enjoyed it.”
The Spartans return to action on Saturday against their archrival Michigan. That game will tip off at High Noon right here at the Breslin Center. That Big Ten tilt is ridiculously the only regular season matchup between the two and can be seen on FOX.
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