Following a disappointing first-round exit from Maui to Virginia Tech the night before, No. 3 Michigan State withstood a ridiculous second-half performance from Georgia’s Anthony Edwards to claim a 93-85 consolation win at Maui.
The Spartans bounced back from the upset to the Hokies with a dominating first-half effort — putting together a 21-point halftime lead as senior point guard Cassius Winston did whatever he wanted.
Then, following a slow first half, Edwards showed why many consider him the potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The freshman shooting guard pumped in 33 points in the second half — finishing with 37 overall. Edwards put up deep three-pointers, tough fadeaway jumpers (which made Bill Walton compare Edwards to Mitch Richmond on the broadcast) and generally looked like a 10-year NBA all-star for 20 blistering minutes. The Spartans lead also went from 28 down to two.
It looked like Maui could turn into a potential disaster for the former preseason No. 1 team.
But Michigan State deserves credit for showing resilience and taking the very best punch from perhaps the best pure scorer in college basketball and turning things around to win. Winston poured in 28 points and added eight assists while only turning the ball over twice. And although Edwards’ run was a frightening thing to deal with if you support the Spartans, Michigan State had enough responses to avoid the dreaded “1-2 — W over Chaminade” finish at Maui.
In all likelihood, Michigan State will see UCLA in the consolation title tomorrow with a chance to finish the event 2-1. Although the competition won’t be what the Spartans were hoping for, they have enough brutal games on the schedule where it’s not like they need additional Q1 games. They just need to improve closing out games if they want to remain Big Ten champions as a hunted top-five team.
Georgia’s comeback was fun. Edwards now firmly feels like the most compelling individual player to watch from a casual fan perspective in college hoops this season. But there’s still a glaring lack of consistent play from a team featuring 10 new players and relying on many younger guys.
Edwards had a hot/cold game in which he was virtually non-existent in the first half. At one point, Walton even mentioned Markelle Fultz’s name in a sentence speaking about Edwards — implying that the No. 1 hype wasn’t warranted. Then Edwards had one of the greatest stretches in the history of a storied tournament. The highs and lows within even one game need to slow down if the Bulldogs want to be a factor in the SEC.
A high-scoring game with a top player in college hoops single-handedly trying to take down a top-five team is about as good as you can ask for when it comes to afternoon consolation college hoops.