East Lansing — Through the first two games of the season, two players Michigan State is counting on to be significant offensive contributors had yet to contribute a whole lot.
Senior guard Eron Harris had only nine points in two games while shooting just 4-for-11 from the field and sophomore Matt McQuaid had 12 points and was just 4-for-14 from 3-point range.
On Friday night in a 100-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Breslin Center, things started to come together for both as Harris scored 19 and McQuaid chipped in 15.
“Man, when those shots fall for a scorer it makes you smile and you play better on both sides of the floor,” Harris said. “You just got to be consistent with that.”
Harris came into the season expected to be more of the player he was last season when Denzel Valentine missed four games with a knee injury. In that stretch, Harris averaged 17.8 points, including 27 in a win over Oakland.
McQuaid missed most of the summer while recovering from surgery for a sports hernia and the rustiness showed in the first two games. But now playing the shooting guard position, one he rarely played last season as he was forced to play plenty of point guard, McQuaid is starting to find his groove.
Friday night’s game was the first step as he hit three straight 3-pointers in one stretch and was 5-for-8 for the game.
“It definitely helps when we get assists on shots instead of people just going one-on-one and trying to make plays,” McQuaid said. “When your teammate gives you passes, it’s a good feeling because that means that they believe in you to make that shot. Tonight we got great passes. I got really great passes on all of my shots and that’s the reason I made shots.”
The play of the two guards was indicative of the offensive performance for the Spartans. They had 33 assists on 39 made shots, including 11 from freshman Cassius Winston.
“It was amazing to have 11 assists, Miles had 20 in the first half, Quaido hit I don’t know how many 3s and Eron had his most points all season,” Winston said. “We need these type of games to get a confidence boost. At the end of the day, no matter the competition, we hit shots.”
Michigan State welcomed Spartan legend Magic Johnson back to Breslin Center on Friday night. He spoke to the team before the game and greeted the players afterward.
The Hall of Famer has always followed his alma mater closely, and it’s something the Spartans relish.
“That was fun, I’m giving the pregame talk and Earvin walked in,” Izzo said. “We don’t like Earvin around here, we love him. He’s done so much for me, but he still has the same passion for the program. He still keeps up on it the same way. He knew every play against Arizona, he knew every play against Kentucky. He did come and speak a little bit. I think the young guys really appreciated it, not as much as I did.
“I’m sure he’ll come by practice, he’ll be here a couple of days and it’s good to talk to some guys.”
Freshman guard Joshua Langford missed both exhibition games with a sore left hamstring and Izzo said after the game he’s concerned it looks like Langford is “dragging that leg.”
Langford played just 12 minutes, hit one 3-pointer and turned the ball over twice.
“I wasn’t worried about it but I am getting concerned about it because we gave him a lot of time off for a normal hamstring,” Izzo said. “It can be a fickle thing.
“We’ll do some checking tonight. When he’s at full-go like he was for a few of those practices, he’s very effective, a great defender, good rebounder and can run the lane and make good passes. He got sloppy tonight. It just seems like he’s not … he’s not there yet, no question about it.”