No offense: Spartans clawed by Wildcats
New York — When Miles Bridges checked out for the final time Tuesday night, he could only say one thing to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
“All I could tell him was I’m sorry,” Bridges said. “There was nothing else to tell him.”
It was that kind of night for Bridges and No. 13 Michigan State, as it got rolled over by No. 2 Kentucky, 69-48, in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
While the Wildcats flourished on the big stage, the Spartans wilted.
And that was no more evident than by the game Bridges had. The standout freshman finished 2-for-11 shooting overall and turned the ball over nine times. His 12 rebounds were of little consolation.
“I felt really embarrassed,” Bridges said. “I felt like I let my whole team down and they scored on each of my nine turnovers. So I feel like I just have to keep getting better and find out what I need to do on my reads when I come off screens. I’ll get better at that.”
The whole team will need to get better after opening the season with two straight losses. And the things that plagued Michigan State against Arizona last week were on display again Tuesday as it turned the ball over 20 times and had little flow on offense.
Michigan State finished shooting 32.8 percent overall (20-for-61)
“Actually, I’m a little embarrassed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I thought we competed defensively for the most part, we just didn’t do anything offensively. It looked like a team that was an AAU team. We went one-on-one, didn’t move the ball and got frustrated.”
The frustration began to mount as Kentucky got a huge spark from freshman Malik Monk, who scored 23 and was 7-for-11 from 3-point range. Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe added 21 points for the Wildcats (3-0) while freshman De’Aaron Fox added 12 points and five assists.
“It feels good,” Briscoe said. “This is a big win for us. Playing in the Garden is big for our freshmen and everyone who has never had the chance to play on a big stage.”
It was clear early Michigan State had few answers for Monk as the freshman nailed his first three 3-pointers and had four total while scoring 14 first-half points for Kentucky. Briscoe was just as effective, getting 10 points including a layup at the buzzer as the Spartans broke down defensively.
“You have to give Monk credit,” Izzo said. “He hit some big 3s early unguarded on the break.”
There were plenty of breakdowns on both ends for Michigan State in the opening 20 minutes as it turned the ball over 11 times and committed nine fouls while shooting 11-for-30 overall.
Bridges struggled the most as he made one of his five shots — a dunk with less than three minutes to play — and turned the ball over five times while grabbing seven rebounds.
A 14-2 run midway through the first half turned a tie into a 26-14 lead for the Wildcats as the Spartans went more than six minutes without a point.
Joshua Langford added a spark late in the half with five points and an assist, but he and Bridges made 1-of-4 free-throw attempts when the Spartans had cut the deficit to five with just more than two minutes remaining.
Kentucky took advantage by pushing the lead back to 34-26 heading into the locker room.
The second half was more of the same as Kentucky pushed the lead to 60-38.
Michigan State went through a scoring drought that lasted more than five minutes.
Cassius Winston finished with nine points for Michigan State but was again bothered by early foul trouble while Kenny Goins added nine points and Nick Ward scored eight. Langford had five points on 2-for-6 shooting.
“It was on us,” Langford said. “We beat ourselves (with the turnovers). The pressure was not something we weren’t used to.
Credit Kentucky, they’re a good team, but we beat ourselves.”