Michigan State Spartans Improve to 10-5 With 61-52 Win Over Northwestern
East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans came into this game with momentum after starting the Big Ten season with a big road win at Minnesota. They lost nothing in the three days between games beating Northwestern tonight the friendly confines of the Breslin Center 61-52.
Izzo said of the contest that, “WOW! We’ve been in two wars. Strange game. Our players felt like Matt (McQuaid) would have been our hockey three star guy. Didn’t shoot real well, but on defense.”
Northwestern coach Chris Collins (One of the premier young coaches in all of basketball) was obviously disappointed in the loss watching his Wildcats fall to 12-3. He said of the emerging and improving Spartans that “Seemed like an old fashion Big Ten game to me. MSU was just tougher tonight and we let them get into transition which is what they do best. Give Michigan State’s defense credit, they defended us well tonight and Michigan State played well. They are a good team, especially at him. We have to learn from this game and I don’t think anyone (in the conference) will go 18-0.”
Alvin Ellis had his second straight big time performance and led the Spartans with 16 points and eight rebounds. Cassius Winston dropped in 15 points and added six assists and finally Nick Ward had 11 points and nine rebounds in only 18 minutes. They were the only Spartans in the double digits column.
The Spartans shot only 43% on the night, but held a much improved Northwestern to only 36%. The Spartans were improved from the charity stripe, but still an unimpressive 68%. They won the battle of the boards 43-27 and points off the bench were a winning stat for the Spartans at 28-11. The Spartans saw 10 players have significant minutes and all of them scored. MSU also had 14 assists on 21 baskets.
Ward played 33 minutes in the overtime win over Minnesota and tonight fouls were not the issue with him only getting 18 minutes. Izzo said, “Nick got frustrated because they beat the hell out of him, but he played well. I wanted him to play more. He got a little frustrated tonight and he responded and that is a big positive.”
Izzo added of the tilt that, “I got to do a better job getting some things offensively set. Trust me when I say this that this was a very good win for us against a very good team. We will do a better job of getting the ball to Nick and we have to find a way to get McQuaid and (Eron)Harris more involved. For basketball players to talk about defense when coaches aren’t around is un-American, but that is what they (MSU players) did in the locker room after the game. I am not trying to make this like we beat the Celtics, but that is a very good team. Physical and grinding, but best of all was our crowd. Impressive and our community rallied around these guys with no students here and that place (Breslin Center) was alive.”
I said after the Spartans game at Duke that the 11 game stretch that started after Duke against Oral Roberts through the January 15, 2017 game at Ohio State would be critical for this team. I said that they had a shot to go undefeated and while a loss to Northeastern will keep that from reality, the Spartans lost Miles Bridges in that stretch and still have stayed on course by only losing that one game.
Speaking for Bridges he didn’t play again. That is not unexpected as Spartan Nation has said since he went out that we didn’t expect him back until the Spartans play in their next game versus Rutgers back here on Wednesday. I expect Bridges to play in that game, but not to start. I look for him to return to the starting lineup versus Penn State in Philadelphia on Saturday, January 7.
Izzo said of Bridges, “Maybe we can start working our guy (Bridges) more in practice now. We need Miles. Workouts will intensify the next couple of days, but the problem is that when he comes back he won’t be the same Miles Bridges. That is going to take weeks. We have to get him back, but the longer it takes to get him back, the longer it takes for him to be really back.” That is exactly what the timeline has been for him and I do expect to see him as a nonstarter in the next game.
The aforementioned Spartan game this Wednesday versus Rutgers can been seen at 8:30 PM on BTN.