HALFTIME: Led by Bridges, Spartans up 39-17 at the half
In round two of MSU men's basketball (11-6 overall, 3-1) against No. 24 Minnesota (15-2 overall, 3-1), the Spartans take a sizeable first half lead, 39-17.
Representing Michigan Agricultural College uniforms, the Spartans' freshman class sparked their early scoring. After a missed shot from fifth-year senior Eron Harris, freshman forward Nick Ward rose above the trees, grabbing the rebound and putting back the layup. Freshman guard Joshua Langford would add a 3-point field goal to the board after freshman forward Miles Bridges drove the lane, dishing the assist out to Langford.
In Bridges' last two games, he said he was worrying about his defense, resulting in a six-point performance against Rutgers and four points against Penn State. Early in the first half, Bridges made the Izzone rise to its feet after a right-handed dunk. He would add a pair of layups shortly after.
An initial up-tempo seven minutes, the Spartans held an early four point lead, 13-9, over the Golden Gophers. Out of the media timeout, MSU took a scoring hiatus, struggling to find clean looks from the perimeter. In a four minute stretch, the Spartans had missed five straight shots. While sophomore guard Matt McQuaid had made a 3-point basket to end the drought, the basket was waived off for a lane violation on senior guard Alvin Ellis III. The drought would officially end after five and a quarter minutes, when red-shirt sophomore Kenny Goins converted on a layup inside.
Although the Spartans struggled to get on the score sheet, their defense shielded off the Minnesota offense. During the MSU scoring drought, they held the Golden Gophers to the same five and a quarter drought.
After the Spartan drought, it would become the Bridges show on offense. Shooting an efficient 5-for-6 from the field, Bridges was knocking down shots from anywhere on the court. Other Spartans in the scoring mix were Harris with 8 points and Langford with 9.
These two teams matched up on Dec. 27, 2016, MSU besting the Golden Gophers, 75-74 in overtime.
In that game, Ward would finish with a double-double, 22 points and 10 rebounds. However, Ward's initial basket would be his only of the half because of two fouls he picked up in five minutes played.
The Golden Gophers struggled to use their size advantage in the low post. While the ball would enter the low post, MSU defenders would lock down, forcing bad shots or the ball would be passed out of the post.
Minnesota's bright spot was guard Dupree McBrayer with 11 points. No other Golden Gopher scored more than two points.
Halftime leaders for MSU:
Points: Bridges with 16 points
Rebounds: Bridges and Goins with 5 rebounds
Assists: Harris with 4 assists
Halftime leaders for No. 24 Minnesota:
Points: McBrayer with 11 points
Rebounds: Reggie Lynch with 3 rebounds
Assists: Lynch and Jordan Murphy with 1 assist
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