Gonzaga gives Michigan State a handful in closed exhibition

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Tom Izzo's Michigan State team saw its first action against a live opponent Saturday.

The public will get to see Michigan State’s basketball team for the first time on Tuesday when the Spartans host Northern Michigan for their only exhibition game of the season.

After that, it’s a matchup with No. 1 Kansas on Nov. 6 in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

But on Saturday afternoon, Michigan State faced Gonzaga in a closed scrimmage at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

It wasn’t set up as a standard game, which makes it a bit tougher to draw many conclusions. But, it at least gives a chance to see some early statistics for two teams ranked in the top 10 in the preseason polls with Gonzaga at No. 3 and Michigan State at No. 10.

Two 20-minute halves were split up by two five-minutes sessions that featured mostly freshmen and reserves. The first 20-minute half was won, 58-46, by Gonzaga and, after the first five-minute session, the Zags won the second 20-minute half, 52-46. It was followed by one more five-minute session.

Nick Ward had 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds for the Spartans while Cassius Winston had 16 points and eight assists but turned it over six times. Xavier Tillman scored 16 and Joshua Langford had 11.

Gonzaga had five players in double figures, including Corey Kispert, who scored 24. Zach Norvell Jr. added 22 points while Rui Hachiura scored 19 for the Bulldogs.

Ward, Winston and Langford started for Michigan State along with Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins. Tillman also played significant minutes. All five freshmen — Foster Loyer, Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier and Marcus Bingham — played while junior Kyle Ahrens also saw a handful of minutes during the two 20-minute sessions.


Twitter @mattcharboneau