Once again, we had the pleasure to see our Spartans completely dismantle a team.
With four Spartans in double-figures in a fifth-straight game with at least 90 points, there’s a lot of good to point out from the win. Let’s get into it.
It seemed like just about every player had their (at least) two minutes of glory. Xavier Tillman had a stint with three rebounds and four points during MSU’s big 15-0 run late in the first half. Kenny Goins unleashed his 3-point shooting. Matt McQuaid found his stroke to start separating the score in the first half. And the starting five was the starting five.
I would say this has been the most entertaining game to watch all year, but it seems like all of them are tied for first.
Nick Ward has missed four shots in the last five games. Let me type that one more time – Nick Ward has missed four shots in the last five games. That’s 90.5 percent shooting in that span.
Jaren Jackson beginning to find his 3-point stroke is terrifying for all teams not named Michigan State. Jackson’s shooting ability was often mentioned coming in here, but Thursday was the first time this season he connected on a consistent basis and, really, looked confident doing so. While he splashed in 15 points on 5-6 shooting from deep, he did revert to an early foul problem and basically missed the entire first half. Fortunately, the team was fine without him for that half.
MSU splashed in 16 3-pointers, which was one shy of a program record. Just wanted to mention that.
Matt McQuaid’s defense was crucial on Thursday, and Tom Izzo agrees. The head coach said his defense in the second half was “the difference” in the win, and who are we to doubt Izzo? Maryland’s Kevin Huerter caught fire early, getting 14 of his 16 points in the game’s first 13 minutes, but McQuaid’s defense the rest of the night made him uncomfortable. McQuaid’s defensive growth this year is a huge asset, and it shouldn’t be looked over much longer.
I really wish Izzo wouldn’t beat the crap out of his players to celebrate with them.
Tillman is now in concussion protocol and will be examined throughout the week (kidding).
Inane stat of the day: For the first time ever in the Tom Izzo era, MSU has started Big Ten play with three straight double-digit victories.
Up next is Ohio State, who has been the surprise of the Big Ten so far at 3-0 in conference play. The 6-foot-7 Keita Bates-Diop will be the man to stop as he averages a shade over 19 points per game, but he’s also surrounded by three other players that average double figures. It will be a great road test for MSU when they tip off on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.