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Roundball recap: MSU blows doors off No. 5 Notre Dame

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The first half was so good the second half scaries didn’t matter

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

My goodness is this team fun to watch.

I mean, there’s so much star power on this team it’s hard to guess who will go off on any given night.

Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford each had 17 points. Miles Bridges went off for 14 with two alley-oops. Jaren Jackson Jr. has on fire on defense with three blocks. Even Matt McQuaid had himself a game off the bench with nine points, four assists and two big offensive rebounds.

So, let’s riff about that game.

Uhh, let’s talk about that first half. Firstly, let’s just kick this off with the play that brought me — an likely many, many others — off the couch:

That play was almost the perfect symbolic sequence to the rest of that half. It had incredible defense by Jaren Jackson Jr. throwing down one of his three blocks on the half. It had Cassius Winston dishing one of three assists he had on the half. And, of course, Miles Bridges showing he is healthy again.

Only huge character that play didn’t show was Joshua Langford, who was lights out with a mid-range game and led the game with 12 points at half.

What was more impressive that first half? The offense or the defense?

The defense kept Bonzie Colson only had six points on 3-9 shooting. Matt Farrell, who averaged 17.5 points per game heading into Thursday, was kept scoreless. And, arguably most importantly, they kept one of the best 3-point shooting teams at 3-11 in the first half.

On offense, our Spartans looked unstoppable with 51.4 percent shooting. Langford nearly had to stop, drop and roll. Cassius Winston was 3-3 with eight points and three assists. Ward added six points with four free throws and three offensive boards, and Matt McQuaid had five points and three assists.

Poll

What impressed you more in the 46-26 first half?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    MSU’s defense
    (338 votes)
  • 30%
    MSU’s offense
    (149 votes)
487 votes total Vote Now

Hoo boy, did it get dicey there in the second half. Listen, maybe it’s because my anxiety is through the banner-clad roof while watching games, but that games might as well been tied in the second half. Notre Dame came out of halftime and caught MSU sleeping, going on a 14-2 run to open the half and eventually made it as close as a seven point game at 53-46.

Part of that was MSU’s eight second half turnovers. Another big part was Jaren Jackson’s foul trouble, allowing Colson to make a difference. And credit Notre Dame for their adjustments as well.

Alas, Cassius hit two three late to extend the lead to 18 points and the rest was history. Thankfully.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Can we talk more about Langford? His production can’t be stated enough, and if that mid-range jumper is going to be there all season, that’s terrifying for anyone that plays MSU. Langford’s shot fake three to mid-range jumper is *kisses fingers* brilliant.

I think the best individual attribute on this team is Jaren Jackson’s defense. There are close seconds -- Nick Ward’s post offense, Cassius Winston’s passing and, of course, Miles Bridges athleticism — but Jackson’s defense has shined against two top ten teams.

Against North Carolina he kept Luke Maye at bay. Against Notre Dame, he contained Colson. For a freshman to shut those two guys down is a luxury that makes MSU one of the nation’s best.

It was tough to pick an MVP for this game. So I’ll let you guys do it.

Poll

Who earns game MVP vs. Notre Dame?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Josh Langford (17 pts, 12 in first half)
    (325 votes)
  • 47%
    Cassius Winston (17 pts, 5-6 3-pt shooting, 7 ast)
    (369 votes)
  • 2%
    Miles Bridges (14 pts, 6 rebs, 4 ast)
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    Nick Ward (12 pts, 5 rebs)
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    Jaren Jackson Jr. (5 pts, 3 blk)
    (38 votes)
  • 1%
    Matt McQuaid (9 pts, 4 ast)
    (11 votes)
772 votes total Vote Now