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Nick Ward named Big Ten Freshman of the Week again

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing – For the second time this season, Michigan State’s Nick Ward has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

Ward earned his first career start on Wednesday in a victory over Oakland and scored a career-high 25 points while grabbing nine rebounds. He was 7-for-12 shooting and made 11 of his 17 free-throw attempts.

“What I love about the kid is he’s getting better,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the win over Oakland. “So it’s maybe three steps forward and a step back, maybe four steps forward and two back. Some days it’s one forward and one back. But at the end of each day, I see him making progress and so it’s kind of fun. I know the game’s important to him.”

Michigan State (8-5) opens Big Ten play at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Minnesota and Ward will likely be in the starting lineup once again.

On Monday, Izzo said he’s still tinkering with the rotation, but he’s happy with Ward.

“I’m really pleased with the progress Nick has made,” Izzo said. “He came back from (Christmas) vacation lighter than when he left so he’s done an incredible job not only losing the weight but maintaining it and I think his play has continuously improving.”

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The Big Ten Player of the Week is Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, who averaged 26.5 points and 20.5 rebounds in wins over Western Illinois and Norfolk State.