East Lansing — Michigan State needed a win on Sunday, but it got something else in the process that might be just as important.
The Spartans ended a three-game skid by beating rival Michigan, 70-62, at the Breslin Center and that was certainly important for a team that had lost four of five and has been starting to feel the pressure with the second half of the Big Ten season all that is left.
But the added bonus seems to clearly be the fact sophomore guard Matt McQuaid might have burst out of a slump that has lasted for large chunks of the season. McQuaid made all three of his 3-pointers on Sunday, the first time he’s had multiple 3-pointers in a game since he made two against Rutgers on Jan. 4.
And that it came in such a big game was critical.
“Every one of (his shots) looked good and you’ve got to get confidence somehow, it’s not going to be given to you,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “The kid has worked hard at it and what I like most was how the team felt about it for him.”
That was evident when Miles Bridges dished to McQuaid for a second-half 3-pointer in transition and followed it with a steal at the other end. It was reminiscent of McQuaid’s play last season in the win over Kansas when he was 3-for-3 from 3-point range and had a huge block to secure the victory.
“That was big for us to see him make that shot,” Bridges said. “Once he hit that he really got going on the defensive end and started becoming a great player for us.”
It was expected of McQuaid to start the season, but after double-hernia surgery eliminated most of his summer work, he has been slow to find any rhythm this season. He had some early moments like going 5-for-8 in a win over Mississippi Valley State, but for the most part, his confidence has been shaken.
That has been most evident since coming back from missing the Tennessee Tech game in early December after taking a shot to the head in practice. From that point, McQuaid was 6-for-26 from 3-point range.
It changed on Sunday thanks to his mindset.
“I played with a different mentality today,” McQuaid said. “Every time I get the opportunity, I’m going to take it. Every time I come off the screen, I’m going to take it. I feel like I did that. My teammates gave me some great passes. I was just given the opportunities and I just knocked them down.”
They’ll continue to need him in the second half of the Big Ten season if the Spartans expect to be back in the NCAA Tournament. And if it helps, his teammates have his back.
“We all know what Quaido is capable of,” guard Cassius Winston said. “You saw him last year. We call him ‘Big Shot Quaido’ for a reason. He won them a lot of games last year. To see him get a couple of shots going in will help his confidence and we’re gonna keep feeding him the ball because down the road we’re gonna need him.”
Recruits on hand
It was a big recruiting day at Michigan State for both the football and basketball teams, but the real prize was on hand to take in one last visit before deciding on his school.
Brian Bowen, a 6-foot-7 guard rated the No. 13 player in the nation by 247sports.com, was on hand for his official visit. He is reportedly set to decide between Michigan State, Arizona, Creighton, N.C. State and Texas.
The Saginaw native joined La Lumiere teammate Jaren Jackson and sat on the bench with Izzo before the game. The 6-10 Jackson has already signed with Michigan State, as has 6-8 Xavier Tillman, who sat with the two in the stands during the game. Late in the second half, the Izzone started chanting Bowen’s name and he raised his hands in acknowledgement.
Also on hand was three-star point guard Greg Elliott of Detroit East English, who posted on Twitter after the game he had been offered a scholarship from the Spartans.
The 2018 class was also represented with commits Thomas Kithier and Foster Loyer on hand as well as forward Brandon Johns of East Lansing, point guard Duane Washington Jr. of Grand Rapids Christian and center Trevion Williams of Henry Ford.