East Lansing — Michigan State won its 11th straight game on Thursday and now it’s headed for a much-needed break.
The second-ranked Spartans cruised past Long Beach State, 102-60, at the Breslin Center and won’t play again until hosting Cleveland State on Dec. 29. That means a break of several days as players head home for the holidays before returning on Dec. 26 to begin preparation for the final two non-conference games of the season.
“I think it’s perfect, I really do,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of the timing of the break. “Even though we had two games where we scored 100, I think it’s really good that we get a break. I think we need one mentally, physically. I think even the coaches need one. It’s been great and the guys were great in practice these last two days, really focused in. To me, the practices were a lot more intense than the game as far as how we played, so we still got to figure that out a little bit.
“I think it will be good. We’ll get some guys freshened up. We got to make sure Miles (Bridges) does a little cardio cause his conditioning is just coming back and he’s starting to look … I thought really good even when he missed some shots. And we’ve got to make sure Nick (Ward) stays in tip-top shape.”
Most players will be headed home for Christmas, including Detroit native Cassius Winston.
“I’m definitely headed home,” Winston said. “My brother has a game so we’ll spend time with family. Haven’t had a lot chances to sit down with them so I’ll enjoy that.
“We know the things we need to work on but we also need a little break. We’ve had a lot of games, lot of battles, lot of practices and things like that. The little break will help get us through it.”
Joshua Langford was looking forward to some time off, too, but was reminding his teammates to stay sharp.
“Well of course you know it’s Christmas, so everyone is going to go home and have fun with their families,” Langford said. “At the same time, you have to have that focus and stay locked in and remember that we have a job to do. And until we finish that job, our job isn’t done. We need to stay focused, but at the same time have fun.”
Michigan State coach talks about his team's performance in Thursday's 102-60 rout and where it stands heading into Christmas break. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
Time to heal
Winston will definitely enjoy the time off as he was slowed a bit on Thursday by knee issue, one Izzo described as tendonitis.
“Yeah, I don’t know what they call it, jumpers knee or something,” Winston said. “It was just something was tight in my knee so I was moving a little slow. I could definitely play through it. I was out there so it was nothing too bad.”
Long Beach State players wore a patch on their jerseys honoring former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote, who died Aug. 28 at the age of 90.
Dan Monson, who is in his 11th season coaching the 49ers, is the son of Don Monson, who was part of Heathcote’s first staff at Michigan State.
... Michigan State finished final exams last week and Izzo said it was one of his team’s best semesters academically.
“I will say Santa did come yesterday, we had our best academic semester since 2009,” Izzo said. “It’s always been pretty good, but I had a lot of 3.0 guys and better. So, no damaging guys at all so that should be noted because like I said I really liked our approach academically, and athletically, and socially and that’s kind of what you have to do in college is manage those three things.”