Elsa/Getty Images

Bridges scores 21 as No. 3 Michigan State beats Rutgers

1 Comment

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — After blowing out its last six opponents, including highly regarded North Carolina and Notre Dame, No. 3 Michigan State was due for one of those off nights.

It almost cost them against Rutgers.

Miles Bridges scored 21 points and the Spartans (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) overcame their worst offensive performance of the season with a 62-52 victory over the surprising Scarlet Knights (6-3, 0-2) on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know how to say this to anybody, but we’re not perfect,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We’re not as good as you guys write. We’re a good basketball team that has a chance to be a great one.”

Against Rutgers, the Spartans had 15 turnovers, gave up 20 offensive rebounds and they played like a team that was starting four sophomores and a freshman, Jaren Jackson Jr. who scored all 11 of his points in the second half and had eight of the Spartans’ season-high 13 blocks. Joshua Langford added 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field.

“Don’t let it eat you alive,” Izzo added. “Don’t let it frustrate you and don’t read into things. We have a long way to go.”

Rutgers made Michigan State work for this one, holding the Spartans to season lows in points and shooting percentage (38.6). The previous low was 63 points and 40 percent shooting against North Carolina.

What Michigan State did well was play defense. It came into the game with the nation’s best field goal defense (34.2) and it held the Scarlet Knights to 25.8 percent shooting from the field (17 of 66).

“They missed some shots, but boy you can build a lot on a good defense,” Izzo said. “You know it can rescue you a lot of times. Pick a pro sport. Pick a different sport, from good pitching to good goaltending to good defense like the Warriors. We textbook their offense. It doesn’t change. Championships are won by good defense 99 percent of the time.”

Deshawn Freeman had 13 points and Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi added 11 apiece for Rutgers, which lost its third straight.

“I hate to lose and I think everyone here came here to beat teams like that,” Baker said. “We were really close. Like Coach (Steve Pikiell) said, there’s a bunch of little things that if we can improve, we can win that game.”

Trailing 45-43 with roughly 8 minutes to play, Mike Williams missed a 3-point attempt that could have given the Scarlet Knights the lead.

Jackson then scored inside and added two free throws to ignite an 8-3 run. Bridges set up one of Cassius Winston’s two late 3-pointers and Jackson hit a free-throw to push the advantage to 53-45 with 3:03 to play.

“We found a way to get it done,” Jackson said. “It was plain and simple. We have to find a way when it’s close like that in a dogfight.”

The Spartans had taken the lead for good when Matt McQuaid hit a jumper for a 36-35 edge. Jackson followed with a layup and rebound dunk and Langford added a jumper for a 42-35 lead.

Playing a Michigan State team that had won its last six games by no fewer than 18 points, Rutgers stunned even its own home crowd by scoring the first eight points. A 19-4 spurt capped by eight straight points by Bridges allowed the Spartans to take a 21-14 lead with just over 7 minutes left in the half, but Rutgers responded with a 12-5 and went to the locker room tied at 26.

The 26 points were the fewest by the Spartans in an opening half this season, and half of them came from Bridges.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Playing their third game in six days and their sixth in 13 may have caught up to the Spartans. They looked sluggish and they got very little from Winston, until his late 3-pointers and even less from power forward Nick Ward, who was 1 of 5 from the field. He played so bad, Izzo only played him 1 minute in the second half.

Rutgers: This is a step forward for the Scarlet Knights. They are relentless on the both ends of the court and this game would have been a lot closer had they not missed so many layups and open shots.

BRIDGES: The conference’s preseason player of the year is finally getting over his sprained ankle. He was 7 of 17 from the field, including 5 of 11 from long range. He added five rebounds. “He can play the 2, the 3, and the 4. He causes problems,” Pikiell said.

UP NEXT

Michigan State returns home to play Southern Utah on Saturday.

After losing to unbeaten Florida State, No. 14 Minnesota and the Spartans the past week, Rutgers takes a step down and plays host to NJIT on Thursday.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Miles Bridges discusses being offered money during recruiting process

Rob Carr/Getty Images
1 Comment

With the FBI launching an investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball last month, the entire sport has found itself under the microscope. Ten people, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested and there’s no telling just how long the FBI’s investigation will last or what information it will produce.

Michigan State forward Miles Bridges is considered by many to be the leading candidate for national Player of the Yeah honors, and he had the opportunity to turn pro after a good freshman season. But Bridges made the decision to return to East Lansing, and with that comes questions as to why he would do that as opposed to cashing in on his NBA potential as soon as possible.

In an interview with Brendan Quinn of The Athletic (subscription required) Bridges discussed a host of issues, including being offered money by people while going through the recruiting process.

“I mean, if you get caught, that might be the end of your career. I wanted to play in college really bad,” Bridges told Quinn. “I don’t know — materialistic things, they don’t really get to me. So when people were offering me money, I would say no right away, because I wanted to be able to live out my college experience. But really, I don’t know, it is hard, especially because I was so young at the time — 17.”

Given the ongoing investigation, high-profile players and teams will be on the receiving end of increased scrutiny even if they aren’t part of the FBI probe. It’s an unfair situation for a player like Bridges to deal with, as even in the actual cases of alleged wrongdoing the players themselves are essentially commodities whose services are being auctioned as opposed to the main characters looking to cash in.

Unfortunately, due to recent events a decision like the one made by Bridges will result in some questioning whether or not the player received something from the school or another entity/individual. And that’s a tough — and unfair — thing for a young player to have to deal with.

VIDEO: Miles Bridges throws down between-the-legs dunk

Nike
Leave a comment

When Miles Bridges made the decision to sign with Michigan State, the Spartans knew that they were getting one of the top prospects in the stacked Class of 2016. And as Bridges has shown during the summer, he’s going to bring some serious excitement to the Breslin Center this winter.

Thursday night at the Moneyball summer league Bridges threw down a between-the-legs dunk…in game action. Bridges had a clear lane with no one between he and the basket, and he took advantage of the situation to give the fans in attendance a show.

Not expecting Bridges to try this during a game this winter (imagine Tom Izzo’s reaction if he did), so getting the opportunity to see this skilled wing do so during the summer is adequate.

Top 15 recruit Miles Bridges cuts list to three

2 Comments

Miles Bridges, a top 15 recruit in the Class of 2016, announced on Monday that he has cut his list to three schools: Indiana, Michigan State and Kentucky.

Bridges had originally cut his list to five schools, but trimmed both North Carolina and Michigan with this announcement. The 6-foot-7 Bridges visited Michigan State this weekend and took his official to Indiana in August.

According to ESPN.com, Bridges has also set Oct. 3rd as the date he will announce his commitment. This will force Bridges to move his visit to Kentucky up to this weekend. He was initially scheduled to visit Lexington for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 16th.

Bridges is an athletic, 6-foot-6 combo-forward that was terrific this summer, showing off an improved perimeter game to go along with his dynamic athleticism.