With Joshua Langford out yesterday at Ohio State, the Spartans were still able to hang 86 points on the board. This does not happen without the crucial performances of players not named Nick Ward or Cassius Winston.
Matt McQuaid, Xavier Tillman, Kenny Goins and Kyle Ahrens combined for 35 points. The contributions of these four players in the 2018-2019 season have made this Spartan team one that is well rounded.
Kyle Ahrens missed all of last season with injury, his presence back on this team has paid immediate dividends. Xavier Tillman has become stronger this season and increased his field goal percentage to 69.9 percent. Matt McQuaid’s three-point percentage is the highest of his four-year career at 44.4 percent and Kenny Goins is averaging just over nine rebounds a game.
The Spartans seem like more of a complete team this year, a solid crew of seven to eight players who all have the capability to step up and have a big game any given day. Even without Joshua Langford yesterday, this team did not miss a beat.
The conference season is a long and daunting one, especially in the Big Ten where there are currently seven top 25 teams. A well rounded team leads to less of a dependency on two or three players (as we’ve seen in past MSU teams).
Michigan State’s win against Ohio State yesterday was one of confidence and reassurance that this team is the real deal. The performances of Ahrens, McQuaid, Tillman and Goins showed that Tom Izzo has this team in early March form already.
With the Big Ten as competitive as it is this season, it is imperative for the performances of MSU’s role players to be consistent and continuous from here on out. Three of the next five games for MSU are on the road, with Joshua Langford’s absence the opportunity to step up and have big games are available.
Since the loss at Louisville just five weeks ago, the Spartans have looked like a different team. This team already seems more March ready than past MSU teams at this point in the season, the focus will need to be kept in order to keep up the electric performances.