Through 15 minutes of play, this game looked like it was going to be a battle.
That quickly changed, as the Spartans ended the first half on a 15-3 run and continued to dominate throughout the second half, winning by a final score of 91-61. The Spartans were able to dominate despite Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford (MSU’s No. 3 and 4 leading scorers) combining to score 18 points on 41 percent shooting from the field.
As a team, the Spartans shot, 57 percent from the field and 57 percent from beyond the arc. Even more impressive is the fact that the Spartans assisted on 30 of 32 made field goals.
“They were good,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “When they can be that deep and they can shoot the ball from all positions and the low post game is still good, they’re tough to guard.”
Nick Ward and Miles Bridges paced the Spartans, combining for 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Perhaps the most shocking performance of the night came from Jaren Jackson. He battled foul trouble early in the game and only played 16 minutes, but in his limited time on the court, Jackson was able to knock down five 3-pointers and block three shots. He came into the game shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.
“We have so many weapons,” Bridges said. “We just want to read the defense and get whatever the defense gives us. It’s gonna be tough to guard all five guys.”
Another surprising aspect of the game was the play of the bench. MSU has relied heavily on the play of its starters this season, but against Maryland, the bench finished with 27 points. Kenny Goins, Matt McQuaid and Xavier Tillman combined for 20 points and 17 rebounds. MSU’s bench came into the game averaging 19.5 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
“That’s huge,” Winston said of the bench play. “To have that kind of contribution off the bench, that’s hard to find anywhere. Our bench doesn’t really have a drop off. They keep punching, they keep coming, and it hurts teams.”
Turnovers have been a huge problem for the Spartans, and according to Tom Izzo, is one of a few weaknesses that can keep the team from winning a title. MSU came into the game averaging 14.3 turnovers per game, but were able to take care off the ball against Maryland, turning it over just seven times, six of which came in the first half.
The Spartan defense was just as good as the offense, as they were able to shut down the Terrapins most of the night. Anthony Cowan scored 26 points in 38 minutes, but shot just 7-18 from the field. As a team, the Terrapins shot 38 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Turgeon described the Spartans’ defense as terrific.
“I think what separates them this year is they’re really guarding you,” Turgeon said. “You don’t get anything easy, you definitely don’t get anything easy by the rim, so that makes it tough.”
Michigan State will travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes on Sunday. The game is set to tip at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.