This game was not supposed to go this way. This was supposed to be a mismatch down low. This was supposed to be a revenge game for a hot Minnesota team and Miles Bridges was supposed to keep scuffling. At least, that’s what I thought when I wrote the game preview.
Unfortunately, I forgot Rule #1A of Journalism.
Jokes on you KJ, being wrong was the plan THE WHOLE TIME! Nah, I’m just dumb.
Anyways, everything was on fire tonight. The throwback uniforms, The Izzone, TV Ted Valentine’s hip thrusts, all of it. We even had a Grayson Allen chant after an “accidental” trip. It was magical.
This was never much of a contest, but let’s take a look at what made it such a big win.
1. Big Time Bounce Back
On Saturday, Michigan State played one of its worst games of the season against Penn State. The Spartans never matched the Nittany Lions’ intensity and looked like a bunch of unprepared freshmen and role players. Tonight, not so much.
There were several standout performers, but Miles Bridges stood above the rest. Per usual, he had a highlight reel dunk and block, but more telling was how naturally he moved within the offense. Against PSU, he looked out of sync, often forcing drives and jumpers. Tonight, his looks came naturally within the flow of play and he was even able to nail some open three’s.
His defense was just as significant, as he held Jordan Murphy — who roasted a Miles-less MSU for 21 boards last time — to a measly 6 point, 4 rebound line and chipped in 4 blocks of his own.
Nights like this remind you why Bridges is talked about as a possible lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft (but please don’t leave. K?)
2. No Puddin? No Problem
We’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about Nick Ward but tonight was not his night. The big man got in early foul trouble in the first half, hitting the pine with over 10 minutes to play.
That would normally spell doom for the Spartans against a team with the frontcourt size of Minnesota, but instead of falling apart Kenny Goins and the #GYLFKG movement came to the rescue.
Goins finished with 8 points, 9 boards and was a net +21. This coming from a 6’6” makeshift center guarding three guys — Konate, Murphy and Lynch — who are all at least three inches taller than him.
3. Langford Gets Loose
Sure, Ward was the least heralded of the freshman class, but the only guy yet to have a breakout performance so far was Josh Langford. 13 points may not scream “breakout” but this was his best offensive showing of the year and a perfect example of why the word “smooth” is floated around so often when coaches talk about him.
The Alabama native hit 6 of his 9 (nice) shots from the field, including a few one-dribble pull-ups that were just beautiful to behold. That silky mid-range game is something no one else on the roster has in their arsenal and a big reason why Langford will be the starting shooting guard in East Lansing for a long time to come.
And-1: The Honey Crisp Trophy is home.
Everyone’s favorite imaginary trophy has made its way back to the imaginary cabinet. Have a crisp one tonight, folks. You’ve earned it.