Michigan State players react to team's performance and getting back on track in Friday's 85-57 win. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
East Lansing — There was a different feeling around the Breslin Center on Friday night, and fortunately for Michigan State, that meant a dramatic turnaround from the last time the Spartans took the floor.
Almost a week after losing by double digits to Michigan, the ninth-ranked Spartans showed no lingering effects as they jumped on Indiana early then cruised to an 85-57 victory in front of a raucous crowd that was happy to see a team that resembled the one that had a 14-game winning streak before losing two of its last three.
“We felt like our old selves,” sophomore Miles Bridges said in a lively postgame locker room. “We were just trying to stay aggressive and play our principles.
“It’s very important (we bounce back). We just lost to our rivals and that usually puts people’s spirits down. For a good team, it gets us going and we got going today.”
The Spartans did that as they controlled the game in nearly every category, outrebounding the Hoosiers, 45-27, and shooting 54.2 percent from the field (32-for-59) while Indiana shot 33.9 percent (20-for-59). Michigan State was also dominant inside, scoring 38 points in the paint to 18 for Indiana while handing out 23 assists.
“In general I was pleased with the way we played,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I looked at it like this — we were definitely not as bad as everyone made us out to be, but we were not as good as some will try to make us out to be. So, I’m gonna just keep grinding. We’re gonna grind to get better. We took a step in the right direction and we’ll see what happens next.”
Michigan State coach talks about his team bouncing back and returning to form in Friday's 85-57 win. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
Bridges was the catalyst from the outset, hitting his first five shots, including three 3-pointers. He finished with 22 points to lead the Spartans (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) while Nick Ward scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Matt McQuaid added 11 points, Cassius Winston had 10 points and eight assists and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 10 and blocked three shots to give him 65 for the season. That’s the most for a Michigan State freshman, surpassing the 64 from Deyonta Davis in 2015-16.
“You could definitely feel (a difference) tonight,” Winston said. “We played a lot harder. That’s the biggest thing. In this conference the team that plays harder is the team that’s gonna win. You felt it in our step, felt it in our bounce with how we were playing and moving the ball. You felt it.”
The Hoosiers felt it, too.
“They initiated the physicality of the game, the pace of the game,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “They were really ready and really prepared. … They showed they have a fantastic team and will be right there for not only the league but more after that. Just really, really impressive.”
Robert Johnson scored 21 and Josh Newkirk 14 for Indiana (11-8, 4-3).
Michigan State started to wrestle control of the game early in the first half with an 18-0 run that turned a 10-9 deficit into a 27-10 lead with 10:37 to play in the half. It started with a jumper in the lane at the end of the shot clock from McQuaid and ended with a 3-pointer from Winston off a cross-court feed from Ward. In between, Bridges and Jackson had triples while McQuaid and Winston added buckets with a pair of free throws from Gavin Schilling.
The lead continued to grow and reached 40-17 after Ward split a pair of free throws with 2:42 to play in the half. Indiana got a pair of 3-pointers from Johnson and Newkirk before Winston closed the scoring with two free throws to give the Spartans a 42-23 lead at halftime.
“We got the break going, we got the rebounding going, we got the ball moving,” Izzo said. “There was energy. We screwed up some defensive assignments in the second half and that’s why I’m not happy, but playing with energy makes up for it. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Michigan State kept pulling away to open the second half as it opened with an 8-2 run to take a 50-25 lead. Indiana chipped away and cut the deficit to 52-35 after a triple from Johnson with 12:36 to play
But Joshua Langford hit two straight jumpers followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Winston and Jackson as the Spartans pulled away.
Michigan State is back in action Monday when it travels to Illinois. That’s when Michigan State will find out if the work it put in over the last week will sustain it through the second half of the Big Ten season.
“This week got us back on track,” Winston said, “to the type of team we were and the things we have to do.”