Following their Tuesday night 82-78 overtime loss on the road at the KFC Yum! Center against the Louisville Cardinals, the Spartans hit the road once again this time to open up early season Big Ten play in Piscataway, New Jersey by facing Steve Pickell ‘s Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Michigan State was ready for the punch they got from a very much improved Rutgers team and responded with a punch of their own as they were able to get a key early win in Big Ten play, and on the road at that with a score of 78-67. Here are some big takeaways from the Spartans week:
Nick Ward avenges his poor showing at Rutgers from a year ago
Same venue, same result for the Michigan State Spartans, as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights put up a good fight much as they did a year ago when these teams faced off in Piscataway, the Spartans outlasted the Knights 62-52 last season, and once again found themselves in a dogfight in this season’s game. Nick Ward may never forget his abysmal showing in the meeting last season where he only managed three points in 11 minutes at the RAC last season. This time he didn’t disappoint, as the Junior Center came up big for MSU, in a big way as he went for 20 points in just less than 25 minutes of play. Ward shot 7-12 from the field and went six for eleven at the free-throw line.
No McQuaid, No Problem?
Senior guard and captain Matt McQuaid missed both games for the Spartans this week. The Spartans really missed McQuaid on Tuesday Night, as they fell to Louisville. However, that didn’t take away the effort of Kyle Ahrens on Tuesday who put in a career effort with 15 points. Freshman point guard Foster Loyer may have had his worst moment in the biggest moment of his short Spartan career so far, as made a couple of Freshman errors, that may have cost the Spartans in their valiant effort Tuesday night. Gabe Brown came in at a huge moment that night and made a couple of huge three-pointers that showed what the future could hold for this Spartan squad. In the win at Rutgers Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford continued the double-figure efforts they have been playing with all season as Winston went for 22 points and Langford went for 14. The biggest takeaway for the Spartan point guards against Rutgers was that Winston and Loyer combined for zero turnovers. Winston pitched in six assists as well.
Herculean Efforts of the Spartan Bigs
The Spartan bigs continue to play with heart and effort. Though Kenny Goins doesn’t stuff the offensive scoring stat line, the guy is a baller, as he continues to get the ball off of the boards for Michigan State Spartans. Goins went for 17 rebounds and zero field goals attempted against Louisville and followed that effort up with three points and nine rebounds against Rutgers. Xavier Tillman put up impactful numbers against both Louisville and Rutgers, as he went for 11 points and 13 rebounds against the Cardinals and had 11 points and eight rebounds against the Scarlet Knights.
Well, it wasn’t the greatest two games for the Spartans this season this week, but they hit December at 6-2 (1-0) on the season. The Spartans head home for yet another key early Big Ten match-up as they host the #14 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1, 0-1) on Monday night at the Breslin Center. Rutgers 5-2(0-1) head to Madison, Wisconsin in their next game squaring off with yet another top 25 team in the Wisconsin Badgers 7-1(1-0) who just beat the Iowa Hawkeyes. Should be a good start to December in the college basketball world.