The No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (19-5) looked to end their three-game skid with a home game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (16-8) on Saturday afternoon. The game was the lone meeting for the teams this season, and the Spartans got back to their winning ways notching their 10th conference victory of the season. Here are some takeaways from the victory.
Spartans end Skid
The Michigan State Spartans entered Saturday on a three-game losing streak, with those losses coming against Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois. With the Purdue and Illinois losses coming on the road. The Spartans came out determined to get back to who they were only two weeks ago, and they did exactly that on their way to a 79-55 throttling off Richard Pitino and the Gophers.
Rebounding, defending and assists, that is what Michigan State is and they were able to do that very well Saturday afternoon. The Spartans pulled down 38 rebounds, and also had 27 assists on 31 made field goals. But it just wasn’t an outstanding performance at the offensive end. MSU’s defense played outstanding as well holding Minnesota’s leading scorer Amir Coffey to four points on two of six shooting, along with holding double-double machine Jordan Murphy to five points and six rebounds. Nick Ward, Matt McQuaid, and company were making it happen at both ends of the floor.
There have been highs and lows for junior forward Nick Ward, Saturday’s effort was definitely a high note, as Ward looked laser focused and lock in at both ends. Ward responded to Tom Izzo’s challenge not to mention a little challenge from Earvin “Magic” Johnson. It was the perfect response from Ward, after struggling the past three games.
Nick was able to be successful at both ends of the floor, leading the way with 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and also added a block. Senior Guard Matt McQuaid may have been the biggest factor in this game, with Cassius Winston dealing with early foul trouble McQuaid saw a little time at the point guard. McQuaid is mainly known for his defensive effort and maybe a couple pump fakes, but Matt McQuaid looked like a scorer in this game.
Matt looked like a legitimate scorer in this game as he posted 18 points, five rebounds, eight assists. Not to mention for the first time in three games didn’t have any fouls. Cassius Winston posted a mere quiet 11 points and nine assists, but almost posting a double-double when in foul trouble shows how much Winston means to this team.
Freshman continue to grow
The freshman were able to post increased minutes in this game, as all five freshmen played more than five minutes in this game. Aaron Henry who has been the leader of the young group of guys continues to record stats across the table, adding three points, three rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Though Foster Loyer still seems very shaky he was able to record 11 minutes in this game. The big news in this game, was when Senior forward Kenny Goins suffered an elbow injury, freshman Thomas Kithier was pushed into a large role in this game, and he was ready for it. Kithier was able to post eight points and three rebounds in a season-high 18 minutes. In garbage time Gabe Brown was able to add a couple of big offensive rebounds along with four points. Marcus Bingham Jr has a couple of good looks, but could get it to fall, he did add three rebounds and a block.
On Tuesday, January 12th the Spartans travel to the Kohl Center in Madison for a showdown with the Wisconsin Badgers (17-7). Minnesota travels to Lincoln to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-11) on Wednesday Night.