Michigan State wins by 45 but effort disappoints Tom Izzo

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — The numbers all pointed to a great night for Michigan State on Monday.

The Spartans cruised to a 107-62 victory over Houston Baptist at the Breslin Center with Miles Bridges matching a career high with 33 points, Cassius Winston dishing out a career-best 12 assists and Michigan State blocking a program-record 16 shots.

However, coach Tom Izzo believes that simply clouded the fact that No. 2 Michigan State didn’t play worth a darn.

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 107, Houston Baptist 62

“They say there’s old school and new school and I would say it’s right school and wrong school,” Izzo said. “I do talk often about we’ve got to make sure we don’t let analytics get in the way of reality and so analytically we shoot 65 percent, shoot 50 percent from three, shoot 76 from the line with the one (stat) I do like is we had 30 assists on 36 baskets. But the eye test, we weren’t very good.

“The keys of the game were on the wall and they were to not have turnovers and we must have slept through the first minute and 38 because we had four of them. We said we would contest the three without fouling and we didn’t contest very good, they just missed some shots. … They were overmatched on size and for a team like that to get 24 offensive rebounds and absolutely embarrass us, it was a shame.

“I told my team there are two kinds of efforts. There’s efforts to win games and there’s efforts to win championships. We gave an effort to win a game.”

More: Michigan State remains No. 2 in AP poll

Michigan State (11-1, 2-0 Big Ten) won the rebounding battle, 43-39, but it trailed most of the game and the 24 offensive rebounds allowed was one short of the most this season behind the 25 Duke had in the second game of the season.

And the Spartans only turned the ball over 14 times, but it was the casual variety — a growing trend — that had Izzo upset. The players recognized it, but finding the answers isn’t as easy.

“Here we have a bigger goal in mind than just win a game,” Winston said. “We can always just win games and that’s not what we want to do. We want to win championships and to win championships you’ve got to be a championship-caliber team. So every night we try and take steps to become a championship-caliber team and tonight we didn’t take those steps.”

As Izzo pointed out, the continued problems turning the ball over and not rebounding has clouded some impressive performances. In addition to Bridges’ 33 points and Winston’s 12 assists, Nick Ward was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field and scored 20 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. had six blocks. Joshua Langford added 14 points.

But those players were on the same page as their coach after the game.

“We didn’t offensive rebound well and we didn’t defensive rebound well,” Ward said. “There’s no way that we should have been in a rebounding battle with them. We’re a much bigger team and for us not to rebound is bad on our part.”

Added Bridges, “They had 24 offensive rebounds. That’s what we do at Michigan State. We plan to win the rebounding battle by 15 every game so we didn’t do that today and they punked us. We can’t let that happen the rest of the year.”

The overmatched team from Houston Baptist battled on the boards but couldn’t get enough shots to fall to keep it close. The Huskies were 21-for-74 from the field including 4-for-19 from 3-point range.

Jalon Gates scored 17 points to lead Houston Baptist (4-8) while Ian DuBose and Braxton Bonds scored 10 points each for the Huskies.

Michigan State could hardly miss in the first half shooting 70 percent (21-for-30) from the field while scoring on 24 of its 29 possessions it did not turn the ball over.

However, there were eight turnovers for the Spartans, who also were outrebounded by Houston Baptist, 22-17, in the first half. Bridges scored 20 in the first half on 8-for-11 shooting, while Langford and Ward each had 10.

Michigan State slowly began to pull away in the second half. The Spartans reached the 100-point mark for the first time since scoring 100 in a win last season over Mississippi Valley State. The 107 points were the most the Spartans have scored since scoring 110 against Nebraska-Omaha in 2011.

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None of it had Izzo smiling.

“I’m not getting through, so the blame should go on me,” he said. “I’ve got to do a better job getting through to some people.

“I thought this was an important couple of games and we had to change what we were doing in some areas that matter as the games get bigger and more important. We showed tonight we’re not the second-best team in the country.”