The Miles Bridges-less Michigan State Basketball team used a career day from junior Matt McQuaid to defeat the DePaul Blue Demons 73 to 51 in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore.
The Spartans improved to 3-1 on the year with the victory while DePaul dropped to 1-3.
McQuaid scored a career high 20 points as he was joined by three other Spartans that finished in double figures. Jaren Jackson Jr. recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Cassius Winston and Josh Langford each tallied 10 points a piece.
The Spartans and Blue Demons went into the half tied at 31-31 after DePaul’s Eli Cain hit a buzzer beater 3-pointer to tie the game at the break.
Michigan State was able to jump out to a 7-2 lead with 15:44 remaining in the half thanks to their outside shooting. An early storyline this season for the Spartans has been the lack of production coming from the “two-guard” position with Matt McQuaid and Josh Langford. After starting the season 1-10 from behind the arc, McQuaid began Thursday night’s contest by nailing his first two 3-pointers and later added another from NBA range. He finished the half with 11 points to lead the Spartans, however the first half was not all smiles for the sharp-shooter. McQuaid also led the Spartans in turnovers in the first 20 minutes by coughing the ball up three times out of MSU’s nine first half turnovers.
As for Langford, nothing would fall after what Tom Izzo called “his most complete game at Michigan State” against Stony Brook. He finished the half with three points on only 1-6 shooting, some of those shots not even being close.
Depaul fought back by using a 6-0 run to get within two points at 10-8 with 13:40 remaining in the half. The Spartans countered with five straight points (Langford 3-pointer, Ben Carter layup) to force a timeout as they led 15-8 with 12:12 remaining.
The Blue Demons continued to chip away at the deficit until they were finally able to take their first lead of the game by using an 11-0 run to go up 26-20 on the No.4 ranked team in the country.
Again, MSU was able to counter DePaul’s “right hook” as they went on their second 7-0 run of the game that included two Jaren Jackson Jr. layups and the previously mentioned moonshot from McQuaid to lead 27-26 before DePaul would tie the game at the break.
The Spartans struggled the shoot the ball at a consistent rate in the first 20 minutes, finishing the half only 39 percent from the field. The Spartans’ depth was tested in the half as six players went into the break with two fouls, including Nick Ward who was held to two minutes and zero points due to a couple of early fouls that sent him to the bench.
MSU dominated the second half by outscoring the Blue Demons 42-20 to pull away.
Michigan State came out of halftime focused and on fire as they made their first four shots from the field with McQuaid again being a catalyst not just at the start but throughout the remainder of the game.
Midway through the half, the Spartans used an 14-0 run that spanned over six minutes of game action to put DePaul away for good. During that span McQuaid made three more 3-pointers, as he went six of eight behind the arc, to stretch MSU’s lead to 51-37 with 10:11 remaining.
The Spartan lead stretched as high as 24 points at 73-49 with 1:42 remaining.
Michigan State saw their shooting woes being put to bed, at least for one night, as they went 47 percent (25 of 53) from the field and 43 percent (10-23) from behind the arc. They also out-rebounded DePaul 39-24 with 10 of them coming on the offensive end and five of those coming from an unsung hero, former walk-on Conner George. Michigan State also recorded 17 assists in the game with eight of them coming from Winston.
With the victory, Michigan State moves on through the winner’s side of their bracket and will take on UCONN tomorrow night at midnight while DePaul will take on Oregon on the loser’s side of the bracket.