The Spartans were led by Nick Ward who had 22 points and nine rebounds. Matt McQuaid had 18 points and five rebounds and eight assists. Cassius Winston was the only other Spartan in double digits. He had 11 points, nine assists, and zero turnovers.
Tom Izzo said, “What I am most proud of is that we practice hard the day before the game and you are not supposed to do that. I give Nick Ward credit, he has to keep that going and Earvin (Johnson) told him that too.”
Gopher head coach Richard Pitino added, “Credit to Michigan State they were clearly the better team. We are an offense in such a funk. Every team in this league goes through something like that and we had not. Now we have. Michigan State is good. Michigan State went through it and now we are.”
The Spartans shot 52% from the field including 40% from the three. The Spartans shot a lowly 69% from the free throw line. The Spartans had 27 assists on 31 baskets.
Izzo said of the second straight amazing crowd and having Earvin “MAGIC” Johnson and the 1979 team back for the 40th reunion of their title, “The crowd again was phenomenal. One thing I love about this place is that I just got to hear a speech that people would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars from that 1970 team. Everybody goes through some adversity.”
The Spartans won the battle of the boards 38-33. Impressively the Spartans had only nine turnovers. The Spartans had an impressive 25-9 lead with bench points.
Izzo played all 15 players including all his five freshmen. Thomas Kithier from Clarkston had eight points and contributed a solid 18 minutes.
The Spartans return to Big Ten action against the Badgers of Wisconsin this Tuesday at 7 PM in Madison. That game can be seen on ESPN.
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