Ankle malady causes Joshua Langford to miss first game of MSU career

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
With his foot in a cast, Joshua Langford languishes on the bench and eyes the scoreboard in the second half.

East Lansing — Michigan State played without junior guard Joshua Langford on Wednesday night against Northwestern and it didn’t do much to slow the Spartans’ offense.

Thanks to five players in double figures, No. 8 Michigan State cruised to an 81-55 victory over the Wildcats at the Breslin Center.

Whether Langford is still on the bench with his ankle injury when Michigan State hits the road to take on No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday is the bigger question.

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“He had the MRI (Tuesday) night and he’s gonna visit with a (specialist) just because we’re not gonna take any chances on Josh,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “Josh is a guy that works on his game so much so I’m hoping that maybe there’s just a little wear and tear on it and that’ll be it. So, hoping to know something Friday for sure but we’ve kind of decided we’d keep him out of this game and we’ll have to determine the next game.”

Langford first experienced discomfort in the ankle last week when Michigan State took on Northern Illinois. He started and played the first half but sat out the second with what was called “ankle soreness.”

“He really didn’t seem to do anything,” Izzo said. “It wasn’t that he hurt it in the game. It bothered him a little bit in warm-ups and we thought it was a little ankle tweak and hopefully that’s what it is.”

This is the first game Langford has missed in his career. He started 27 of 35 games of his freshman season then started all 35 games last season. He started the first 13 games this season and is third on the team in scoring, averaging 15 points a game. Langford is also averaging 3.6 rebounds a game and is shooting 40.3 percent (29-for-82) from 3-point range.

Junior Kyle Ahrens returned to the starting lineup after filling in for Matt McQuaid earlier in the season. He started four games and had some big moments, including scoring the final seven points in a victory over Florida. Ahrens entered the game averaging 5.6 points and 2.8 rebound a game and scored 11 against Northwestern.

While the Spartans didn’t seem to miss Langford on Wednesday, they’re holding out hope he won’t be out of the lineup for an extended period.

“Just his vocalness, his leadership and then his impact on the half-court offense,” junior guard Cassius Winston said. “It’s huge. He’s a bucket getter and does it well in the half-court offense too. So we’re just trying, not to make up for that, but doing what we can to fill in that hole. We had to do a lot better on the defensive end and get out in transition.”

Slam dunks

Michigan State shot 58.6 percent from the floor, the ninth game this season the team has connected on at least 50 percent of its field goals.

Nick Ward scored at least 20 points for the sixth time this season and the 17th time of his career. By scoring 21 points in the first half, Ward became the first Michigan State player to score 20 in a half since Miles Bridges scored 20 against Houston Baptist on Dec. 18, 2017.

… Kenny Goins had 12 rebounds, the sixth time this season he’s had 10 or more in a game.

… Xavier Tillman tied a career-high with 14 points.

… Michigan State handed out 28 assists, the eighth game this season with at least 20.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau