Miles Bridges, Kenny Goins and Cassius Winston discuss victory over Hawkeyes. Matt Charboneau
Iowa City, Iowa — Kenny Goins was 2-for-10 from 3-point range entering Tuesday night’s game at Iowa.
The Michigan State junior walked out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena 3-for-11 as his 3-pointer with just more than two minutes to play helped No. 4 Michigan State eliminate an eight-point, second-half deficit on its way to a 96-93 victory, its seventh straight.
It wasn’t the fact Goins made a 3-pointer, or even the fact he made it with the game on the line. It was the way it went in, bounding on the rim and the backboard multiple times before finally falling through the basket.
“Oh my God,” Goins said of watching the ball hang on the rim. “It felt like two weeks (it sat on the rim), honestly. I’m sitting there screaming at it trying to get it to go in.”
The bucket gave the Spartans a 90-89 lead, their first since Goins gave them a 64-63 lead with 13:10 to play.
It’s a part of Goins’ game that took a big step in the off-season. After being forced to play most of his minutes at center last season, Goins worked on his shot through the summer and it has been more of an option for the Spartans this season.
“I wasn’t thinking anything bad (when the shot went up),” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I didn’t appreciate it bouncing around a few times. It would go in, come back out, go back in.
“Kenny has improved his 3-point shooting and he was one of the bright spots tonight. He played pretty well, we just didn’t handle them well inside (on defense).”
While Goins and his teammates were confident when the shot went up, the same couldn’t be said for the Hawkeyes. Odds are Goins shooting from long range wasn’t a priority on the scouting report.
So, when Goins found himself open on the wing and fired, the Hawkeyes weren’t counting on it going in.
“The three that bounced around a little bit,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “that’s always a tough one, when you have one of those, especially when it’s not one of the big scores. That kid is a good player, he raised up and shot it.”
Cassius Winston helped spark Michigan State’s late surge that allowed it to overcome an eight-point deficit. However, he was also part of the reason the Spartans found themselves behind.
“Yeah, it was just big on energy, my body language,” Winston said of the nearly nine minutes he sat on the bench in the second half. “I wasn’t in a winning attitude and I wasn’t playing with championship effort. I was hurting the team. He pulled me out and then gave me another chance to get back out there.”
Winston, who was pulled less than three minutes into the second half in favor of Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn, had nine points, eight assists and two turnovers.
But it was clear to Izzo that his starting guard needed a spark.
“Cassius was struggling early and when Cassius puts his mind to it he can do a lot of things,” Izzo said. “But you know we got down and that’s why he came out. So, nothing big. Just I think we all got to play better and we got to coach better
“But he looked tired to me. He wasn’t pushing the ball early and then when he wants to, he can be a very good player. So, it’s something him and I will talk about.”
Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges took a knee from teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. to the back on a drive to the basket in the second half. He had to come out of the game for a minute but returned quickly.
While the crowd taunted him, Bridges said it was nothing that would linger.
… Jackson had some issues, too, missing practice on Monday because he was sick. “I knew I would play today,” Jackson said. “I was able to bounce back from it. (Had a) high temperature and was not feeling good. I just tried to get as much rest as I could.”
… Vernon Carey, the No. 1 recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com, is taking an official visit to Michigan State this weekend. It’s the first official visit for the 6-foot-9 forward from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.