The Michigan State Basketball team accomplished something Sunday afternoon they have never done in the history of their program. For the first time ever, the Spartans scored over 100 points in four straight games after defeating Savannah State 108 to 52.
“It is good to do something where you leave your foot in the sand,” said Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo.
Three Spartans finished the games with a double-double and all five starters scored in double figures (six players in total) for the third straight game. Nick Ward, Miles Bridges, and Cassius Winston recorded their fourth, third, and second double-doubles respectively. Ward recorded his by leading the team with 21 points and adding in 10 rebounds. Bridges added 19 with 21 boards, and Winston tallied 16 points with 13 assists. Matt McQuaid scored 14 while Josh Langford added 11 and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 10.
Dexter McClanahan led the Tigers with 14 points.
With the win, Michigan State wrapped up their non-conference schedule and improved to 14-1 on the year. With the loss, Savannah State fell to 3-12.
The Spartans will also likely be the new No 1. team in the country come Monday after Villanova and No. 3 Arizona State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday night.
“Anytime we can be number one is great,” said Izzo. “It speaks more about the program. They came here because the program was ranked number one before.”
The Tigers shot their way into a single digit deficit throughout the majority of the first half. It took a 10-0 run through the final 2:43 of the first half, but Michigan State went into the halftime break with a double-digit lead at 51-38.
Savannah State shot 35 percent (13 of 27) from the field through the first 20 minutes. However for 18 minutes of it, they trailed by less than 10 and on multiple occasions held lead. This was due to their success shooting the ball behind the arc as well as they sloppiness of Michigan State. The Tigers went into the break having converted on eight three-point attempts. The Tigers had no problem pulling up from anywhere on the court as seven of their first eight baskets were from behind the arc.
With 11:22 remaining in the first half, Savannah State took their first lead. After the Spartans took it back, the Tigers did not back down and took the lead back on their seventh made three of the game.
The Spartans did not help their case. Michigan State committed 12 first half turnovers with seven different players coughing the ball up at least once. Five of the 12 came within the fist media timeout when MSU, for the second straight game, opened the contest on a 7-0 run. The Tigers missed their first 11 shots from the field and didn’t make their first field goal until the 15:02 minute mark.
“I was disappointed with the amount of turnovers early in the game,” said Izzo.
If not for Ward, the Spartans could have gone into the half trailing. Ward continued his tear of the past week by scoring 16 of his 21 before the break on 7 of 7 shooting.
In the second half, Michigan State outscored the Tigers 57-14 and ended the game on a 32-0 run to extend their winning streak to 13 straight games.
The Spartans took their first 20 point lead with 14:02 remaining as part of an 11-2 run the featured five points from Jackson Jr, four from Bridges, and two from Tum Tum Nairn Jr. As part of a 32-0 run from the 8:50 minute mark until the game was over, Michigan State took their first 30 point, 40 point, and 50 point lead off of a Ward layup, Gavin Schilling dunk, and Bridges three-pointer. The Spartans’s lead reached as high as the 56 point difference at the final buzzer.
Michigan State finished the game shooting 63 percent from the field (44 of 70) marking their third highest tally this season. In contrast, Savannah State shot 26 percent (18 of 69) from the field marking the second lowest shooting percentage allowed by the Spartans this season just behind the 25 percent shot by DePaul on Thanksgiving.
Michigan State will return to the hardwood Jan 4. when they return to conference play with a home matchup against a depleted Maryland squad that lost two starters (Justin Jackson, Ivan Bender) to season-ending injuries this past week.