No. 12 MSU fall to No. 10 Arizona in thrilling Armed Forces Classic
As a salute to the men and women who serve to protect the United States, No. 12 MSU kicked off its regular season with a thriller.
Spartans drop their first game to No. 10 Arizona Wildcats in the Armed Forces Classic.
With time running down in the game, Louwrals "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. stepped up and floated a three-point field goal, hits back iron, but twists and quirks its way into the net to tie the game, 63-63 with 7.0 seconds to go. However, guard Kadeem Allen goes coast to coast to finish a layup in traffic – 65-63.
Forward Miles Bridges showed high-flying excitement and skill as advertised. Early in the first half, he started with a half court alley-oop, assisted by Nairn, soft three-point touch, and a thunderous right-hand dunk. The seven points scored by Bridges ignited the Spartans to a 9-0 lead in the first 3:35. Bridges later connected with Nairn on another throw down, this time Bridges glided in with two hands, eyes level with the rim. Bridges finished with 4 dunks and 21 points, most the contest.
The Wildcats, coached by Sean Miller, played without their returning scorer, sophomore wing Allonzo Trier. In his freshman campaign, Trier averaged 14.8 points a game. However, the Wildcats have their own freshmen weapons in forward Lauri Markkanen, a 7-footer with three-point range from Finland, and guard Kobi Simmons. Markkanen, with a velvet stroke, snapped nylon with two first half long balls, finishing with 13 points. While Simmons efficiently shot from the field for 15 first half points. Spartans made it tough on him in the second half. Simmons was limited to three second-half points, before existing the game late in the second half with an ankle injury.
Head Coach Tom Izzo said in his weekly press conference that all four freshmen may see the court at the same time. Early in the first half, Izzo turned to the freshman. Starting with an offensive rebound by forward Nick Ward, leading to a three-point field goal by guard Joshua Langford. The next Spartan offensive possession saw guard Cassius Winston dish to guard Eron Harris for another three-point field goal.
Spartans controlled much of the first 10 minutes of the first half, however, sloppy turnovers and settling for poor shots, the Wildcats brought the once 15 point Spartan lead, down to a four point deficit to end the first half. From then on out, the teams battled back and forth, trading leads seven times.
The first game jitters and rust reared its ugly head for the Spartans with 17 turnovers. Bridges, Nairn and Harris all committed four turnovers a piece.
The big man depth issues for the Spartans showed little effect, holding an even amount of rebounds. Each big man showed opposite strengths, Ward looked healthy around the rim, scoring 9 points. Although a few layups rimmed out, his footwork freed him for many open opportunities. Forward Kenny Goins made his impact on the glass, leading the team with 8 rebounds.
The Spartans will travel to New York City to take on the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats on Nov. 15 for their next game.