What went down: An injury scare, Spartan debuts and more in MSU's exhibition opener
Realistically, there’s only so much that can be taken away from an exhibition game.
After downing Ferris State 80-72, MSU’s win won’t affect its record. The stats don’t matter either, though they were definitely tracked. There certainly was a basketball game that was played, but its end results will be stashed away like old Halloween decorations after all the spookiness.
The struggles were there, honing in on Joshua Langford and Matt McQuaid’s shooting numbers. The duo combined for just a 2-for-22 shooting line from the field, contributing nine total points. But the Spartans, overall, struggled shooting the ball, just 25 of 72 on the night.
“It was perfect for us,” head coach Tom Izzo said of the exhibition game. “Except for the way we responded, not the way we shot, the way we responded.”
The Bulldogs certainly gave the Spartans all they could handle, too. The away team led MSU 38-35 heading into the locker room. For much of the game, it was a seesaw affair until the Spartans pulled away late.
Guard Cassius Winston had himself a game, really turning it on in the second half. The sophomore went into halftime shooting just 2-for-7, but finished the game at an 8-for-13 clip. He had a game-high 26 points, chipping in five assists and two rebounds.
“Reality check,” Winston said of the back-and-forth game. “Definitely a reality check. A lot of people praising us, what we can possibly be. This just shows that we’re not there yet. And that’s okay, it’s early, we got a lot of time to work on that.”
But still, the exhibition was a chance to stop clashing bodies against each other. Playing an opponent that didn’t don the green and white, namely.
And for others, it was their first time playing in front of a Breslin crowd. Freshmen in Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr. got some burn, the latter with an impressive opening performance, a la Miles Bridges last season.
For guys like Ben Carter, it was a little different. The graduate transfer finally saw the floor for the first in months, missing all of last season due to injury.
“It was a special feeling for me,” Carter said. “Everyone around here, knows how hard I have worked to get back to where I can even check into a game period.”
There was a slight scare in the game, as well, when Bridges went down midway through the first half. Collectively, there was a hush over the crowd as he laid on the court grabbing his head. He did give the Spartan faithful a thumbs up though as he walked into the locker room.
He would eventually return, but not after receiving four stitches and going through concussion protocol.
All in all, a basketball game happened. The Spartans have another one in a few days, against a Division I opponent this time in Georgia.
“Ferris is a damn good Division II team,” Izzo said. “But Georgia’s going to be better all-around team. So we’re going to have our hands full over in Grand Rapids.”