East Lansing — Miles Bridges said he was embarrassed when he walked off the court Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Michigan State’s star freshman had just turned the ball over nine times and shot 2-for-11 in the Spartans’ 21-point lost to No. 2 Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Bridges told coach Tom Izzo it wouldn’t happen again.
On Friday night in Michigan State’s home opener, Bridges was busy putting the poor performance from earlier in the week behind him as he was dominant in No. 13 Michigan State’s 100-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State.
It was the first win of the season for the Spartans (1-2), who host Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday before heading to the Bahamas next week to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“I think we needed a game where we could get out and run and make shots,” Izzo said. “Confidence is important and we made some shots. We beat a team we should beat.”
Bridges flirted with a triple-double, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out six assists, but he spent most of the second half watching his teammates light up the undermanned Delta Devils. It was the first half, when Bridges sparked a 24-4 run to close the half and scored 21 points that had most of those watching impressed, including Magic Johnson.
“Unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Johnson said outside the locker room after the game.
The Michigan State legend wasn’t the only one talking about Bridges afterward.
“That first-half performance is as good as I've seen in a long time here for a half,” Izzo said. “That second half he became normal and I like him abnormal, personally. I told him at the end, he has to keep that fire. He was never lazy and the competitiveness to win games is there but the competitiveness to score, to rebound, to make assists and aggressive dropped off a bit in the second half.
“But maybe I’m asking too much because that eight-minute stretch was remarkable.”
Eron Harris scored 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers, while Nick Ward scored 18 on 8-for-8 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. Matt McQuaid was 5-for-8 from 3-point range to score 15 while Kyle Ahrens added nine points for the Spartans and Cassius Winston handed out 11 assists.
Michigan State broke open a tight game midway through the first half, closing on a 24-4 run to take a 48-23 lead at the break.
Bridges was 10-for-11 in the first half and scored 10 points in the run, none more impressive than when he rebounded his own miss off a free throw and drove the baseline for a dunk that had the Breslin Center crowd on its feet.
Harris also got going later in the half, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to score 11 in the first half.
“We definitely needed a night like this to build our confidence up,” Harris said. “We never really lost it. Those were two demoralizing games but we’re Spartans and we stay strong mentally. We’ve just got to keep moving forward.
“We were moving the ball and everyone was being unselfish tonight. We had a lot of assists, which is a good sign for us. Guys were hitting shots and we had great rhythm and that’s what you want to see.”
Michigan State played well defensively early, holding Mississippi Valley to 3-for-14 shooting to begin the game, then holding the Delta Devils without a point for the final 3:14.
Ronald Strother scored 12 points and Amos Given added 10 for Mississippi Valley State (0-4), which doesn’t play a home game until Jan. 7, playing its first 14 games on the road.
“The team is improving,” Izzo said. “Nick is getting better and Josh (Langford) is still dragging that leg and that is a problem right now.
“We didn’t conquer Rome or anything, but we did take a step in the right direction.”