The #10 Michigan State Spartans started Kyle Ahrens for the fourth straight game, but they did see an injured Matt McQuaid return off the bench and they improved their record on the year to 8-2 (2-0) with a 63-59 winover the Florida Gators on the road today.
The Spartans were led by BIG MAN Xavier Tillman who had 14 points and nine rebounds. He was on point defensively and aggressive at both ends of the court.
Nick Ward added 13 points and had five rebounds. Joshua Langford put in 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Cassius Winston rounded out the double-digit scorers. He had ten points, six assists, and only two turnovers.
The Spartans shot 5% from the field including 27% from the three. The Spartans shot a much improved 88% from the free throw line and had 14 assists on 26 baskets.
But the game shouldn’t have been that close. MSU had an abysmal 11 first-half turnovers and finished the game with 15. The sole AND ONLY reason the Gators were ever in it. The turnovers were the reason it was so close is proven in the amount of time that the Spartans actually led the game. They were in charge for 36:22 of the 40-minute contest.
The Spartans led the battle of the boards 36-33 but gave up a pathetic 16 offensive boards to the men from Gainesville. It was not good.
Izzo shortened his bench and rotation. He played only eight players including only one of the heralded five freshmen. Aaron Henry was the lone freshmen and he played 11 minutes.
McQuaid game in the game at the 14:37 point of the first half in his first action since a deep thigh bruised that was discovered after the win over Texas. He had three points in 18 minutes coming off of the bench, but the unsung hero was Kyle Ahrens. Starting in his fourth straight game he had the Spartans last seven points of the tilt when it seemed as if the Spartans were nearly trying to snag defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Spartans return to action against Green Bay in eight days. One week from Sunday. The tilt with Green Bay tips off at 5 PM and that game can be seen on BTN.
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