The Michigan State Spartans basketball team has played yet another very vigorous schedule to start their 2018-19 campaign, and now that the Spartans have played 10 games and they are on a little break from the action here is a recap of their season thus far. Michigan State stands at 8-2 (2-0) on the season, and with the Holiday’s coming up could very well have an unblemished December. Here is a look back at the Spartans season to this point.
The Spartans started the year with an exhibition game against Tom Izzo’s alma mater Northern Michigan and took care of business against the Wildcats 93-47. Following their exhibition, the Spartans opened the regular season with a big match-up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis by squaring off with then number one team the Kansas Jayhawks. It looked early like the size of Kansas was going to be too much for the Spartans, but MSU put up a valiant effort, eventually falling by five, 92-87. Joshua Langford led the way with 18 points, and a career night from Kenny Goins as he went for 17 points.
The Spartans then returned home for a Veteran’s Day match-up with the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast, who only two years prior nearly upset the Spartans at the Breslin Center in an unforgettable final second that night. This time the Eagles just couldn’t stick as close as the Spartans hit the 100-point mark with a 106-82 victory. This was a big night for junior forward Nick Ward as he recorded a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Cassius Winston finished in double figures once again with 14 points along with 18 points from Joshua Langford. The Spartans then had a pair of on-campus games as being part of the Las Vegas Invitational that resulted in a pair of wins for MSU over Louisiana-Monroe with an 80-59 final, and then a record-tying victory over the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech with a complete all-around effort by the Spartans where they tied the record for margin of victory in Michigan State history with a 101-33 final score.
The Spartans then traveled to Las Vegas for a pair of games in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament during Thanksgiving. Where they faced a ranked UCLA Bruins team and just outmatched the young Bruins squad with an 87-67 win. The Next day they faced another strong team in the Texas Longhorns who had upset the North Carolina Tar Heels to advance to face the Spartans for the Las Vegas Invitational Championship. An early 25-6 deficit may have stopped many, but this resilient Spartans squad rallied back and put on a stellar second-half performance to remember on their way to a 78-68 victory over Shaka Smart and Texas. Without senior captain Matt McQuaid the Spartans next made the trip to Louisville to face the Cardinals in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, where the Spartans came up a little short in overtime and fell to the Cardinals 82-78.
The Spartans opened up Big Ten play with a road trip to Piscataway to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 30th, and they came back to East Lansing one win richer as they pulled away late against a very tough Rutgers squad. The Spartans took it 78-67 behind a great performance from Nick Ward, who one season prior had played terrible in Piscataway. The Spartans then returned home for a Monday Night tilt against then #18 Iowa Hawkeyes, where the Hawkeyes looked capable early but, Michigan State locked down on defense, and totally outmatched the Hawkeyes, on their way to a 90-68 blowout. Senior Forward Kenny Goins looked awesome as he scored 19 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and was three assists shy of a triple-double. Michigan State really challenged themselves over the weekend with a noon tip-off down in Gainsville, Florida against the Florida Gators, who put up a fight, but a late Kyle Ahrens dunk helped the Spartans escape the Swamp with a 63-59 victory.
A look at the Spartans squad this season:
Joshua Langford has 167 points on the season, 36 rebounds, 20 assists, seven steals, and one block. Langford is averaging 16.7 points per game which is a team high. Cassius Winston isn’t too far behind with 161 points, 22 rebounds, 75 assists, 13 steals. Nick Ward has 156 points, 59 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and 12 blocks. Xavier Tillman has chipped in 84 points and 78 rebounds. Matt McQuaid has returned from his bruised knee and has 47 points on the season. Kenny Goins leads the Spartans in rebounding with 100 on the season along with 66 points. Kyle Ahrens has had a great season with 59 points and 28 rebounds. Aaron Henry is the top freshman thus far with 46 points and 31 rebounds, not to mention his effort and intensity he is playing with defensively that has resulted in six steals for the Indianapolis native. Everyone on this year’s team has found the basket this season as every player has scored the ball.
As they are only 10 games into the season, there is still a long way to go but, at 8-2(2-0 in the Big Ten) Michigan State is right where it needs to be. Spartan fans, though it doesn’t seem like this MSu can survive and advance when it comes to March lately, it just feels like something about this team, we could be in for something big this season. Don’t quote me on this one, but this Spartan team is tough and resilient. The losses to Kansas and Louisville are nothing when you think about down the road. All I am saying is keep an eye on this team. The Spartans will be back in action on Sunday, December 16th when they square off with Wisconsin Green Bay at 4:00 p.m.