The #1 Michigan State Spartansshowed up to Williams Arena and promptly handed the struggling Gophers a boring loss 87-57. Now before you get offended by a calling a blowout road win in the Big Ten boring, allow me to explain.
With the Spartans taking heat for being ranked #1 by the coaches and #2 by the AP and the NCAA selection committee calling them a ridiculous three seed, MSU needed a boring win. MSU has arguably taken every teams best shot this year. The Spartans are 25-3 (13-2) and have had their struggles with teams that are not that good. Yet no one mentions that they are an astounding 6-1 ON THE ROAD IN CONFERENCE PLAY!
Tonight the Spartans showed up and simply took care of their business. They dominated a team that they should have. Tonight the Spartans were magnificent in their blandness. They dominated an inferior opponent by putting their foot on the neck of their opponent and never letting up. Here in the land of the “Vikings” the Spartans were as ruthless as Ragnar Lodbrok.
Jaren Jackson, Jr. (3J) played like a #1 overall NBA pick. He led the Spartans with 27 points and six rebounds and was a defensive savant. He showed discipline avoiding fouls and played like a seasoned pro. On the night 3J had zero personal fouls and played 22 minutes. Nick Ward had 13 points and nine rebounds narrowly missing another double-double. Ward did have six turnovers. The Spartans saw 11 players get legitimate minutes and ten of them scored. Cassius Winston was the only other Spartan in double digits. He had 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists. He also only had two turnovers.
But the story of the game was the unselfish play of Miles Bridges. He had five rebounds and five points and four assists. Bridges was a savant on defense and distributed the ball and set up his teammates passing up shots for the benefit of the team. He was so good that while the hordes of media surrounded 3J he boldly declared on his captain and friend, “Miles Bridges is the most unselfish superstar.”
There were only two negatives in the game for the Spartans. Turnovers and free throw percentage. MSU again finished with 14 turnovers and shot only 64% from the charity stripe. Concerns certainly for another day, but to not have angst over tonight.
The Spartan return to action on Saturday. That game will take place in Chicago versus Northwestern and can be seen on FOX.
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