MSU's Cassius Winston, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman on win over Northern Illinois The Detroit News
East Lansing — Through the first couple months of the season, Michigan State has remained relatively healthy.
The only significant injury the Spartans have suffered was the deep thigh bruise Matt McQuaid endured against Texas the day after Thanksgiving that forced him to miss the next three games.
That’s been it until Saturday when junior guard Joshua Langford sat out the second half of an 88-60 victory over Northern Illinois at the Breslin Center that closed out nonconference play for No. 8 Michigan State.
The good news for the Spartans is the injury doesn’t appear to be significant, or at least, one that will keep Langford out of the lineup when Northwestern comes to town on Wednesday.
“I guess he tweaked his ankle just a little bit a day ago, or two days ago, we don’t even know when,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “It was a little sore before the game and he just thought he was gonna play and didn’t think nothing of it. It just wasn’t feeling good, so he didn’t want to push it. So, we got him out of there.”
Whether the injury was a factor in the first half is unknown, but Langford struggled in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 1-for-8 in 12 minutes without grabbing a rebound for the first time in a game this season.
“I’m sure they’ll do an X-ray, but they do an X-ray now if you’ve got a toothache,” Izzo said. “But there’s no worry about him, from what I’ve been told. We decided not to push it. He made the decision, but (him being out) probably hurt us a bit.”
Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery on return to Michigan State The Detroit News
While Izzo doesn’t like facing his former assistants, the homecoming was a good one for Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery, who played for Jud Heathcote from 1989-92 and coached on Izzo’s staff for 10 seasons before becoming the Huskies’ head coach in 2011.
Montgomery drew a loud ovation from the Michigan State crowd before the game.
“It felt great,” Montgomery said. “I love the love. We’ve always taken care of our own. I got my start because Izzo gave me the opportunity. He gave me two opportunities. Obviously, I played for Jud but everyone knew he was toward the end of his career and Izzo recruited me. He stuck behind me for a lot of years and it feels great.”
Montgomery is in his eighth season with the Huskies and won 21 games back in 2015-16.
But as long as he’s been away, he always knows where he calls home.
“I’m a Spartan no matter where I’m at,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes it’s hard when you leave. Of course, I follow my team, but I follow Michigan State in every sport. So, if you guys lose in football on Saturday it’s not a happy home for me in DeKalb.”
Sophomore forward Xavier Tillman matched a career high with 13 rebounds.