This game was never close as the Spartans were led by PG Cassius Winston who had 19 points and seven assists. Add to his stat line that he only had one turnover. Nick Ward added 16 points and Joshua Langford put in 14 and Matt McQuaid rounded out the Spartan double digit scorers with 11. The unsung hero was Kenny Goins who had six points and 13 rebounds.
Tom Izzo said of the contest, “I was really proud that we defended really well early and got our fast break going. That is kind of what we are and Cassius Winston was outstanding. I think the defense still, was the bests part of our game early.”
The Spartans shot 52% from the field including 54% from the three. The Spartans shot an abysmal 56% from the free throw line and had 20 assists on 32 baskets.
Cassius Winston said of the contest that, “We had a lot of practices and we have been waiting for this game for a while. He (Izzo) has been preaching that we have to bring that energy every night. We are just getting better and better.”
Izzo said of Winston, “We had a couple of guards going back to Scott Skiles that was a guard who could score. We had (Denzel) Valentine and we had Kalin Lucas and of course Mateen Cleaves who could do a lot of things. He is a special kid, he can pass the ball and he can shoot the ball and very good in ball screens.”
The Spartans led the battle of the boards 37-33. Izzo played 12 players including all five freshmen. Marcus Bingham, Jr. led the freshmen with six points and four rebounds.
Izzo added of his teams emerging identity that, “To me, Josh Langford is the guy that has to step up. He had a couple of good plays later, but instead of letting the game come to him, I thought he was trying to force some things early. Then he settled down. He is really a good player and a good defensive player. McQuaid played a lot better and I think we go something out of Kyle Ahrens. We need a little more because Nick Ward was negated a little bit tonight. But to his credit, he played within himself and didn’t get frustrated and that was a big plus for us.”
The Spartans return to action against the Texas Longhorns tomorrow in Las Vegas. That game tips off at 6:30 PM ET. That game can be seen on FOX. The Longhorns were the ONLY unranked team in the Las Vegas Invitational and they took down North Carolina earlier in the day 92-89.
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