It took a while for No. 3 seed Michigan State to get into a rhythm, but once they did, Bucknell, the Patriot League champs, didn’t have enough of an answer.
After heading into halftime with just a 44-40 lead, the Spartans held Bucknell to just 14 points in the first 16 minutes of the second half, pushing their lead as high as 18 points in an 82-78 win. The Bison hit a flurry of shots in the final seconds to make the final score look much more flattering than the second half actually was.
For Michigan State, however, the story of this game was Miles Bridges.
Oft-derided this season as a talent that couldn’t take over when his team needed him to, a player that was said to have “no game” by Big Ten expert that shall remain nameless, the NBC Sports Preseason Player of the Year took over against Bucknell. He finished with 29 points, nine boards and four assists, taking 22 shots from the floor with just seven of them coming from beyond the arc.
He went into takeover mode without simply settling for jumpers.
And that is when the Spartans end up at a different level. That’s when they reach their peak, and if we are going to see that Bridges for the rest of the NCAA tournament, then maybe — just maybe — this team has a chance to live up to the potential we all bestowed upon them at the start of the season.
The Spartans will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they will face off with the winner of tonight’s No. 6 TCU-No. 11 Syracuse game.