FINAL: No. 9 MSU rebounds from recent struggles in rout of Indiana
Like he often is against opposing defenses, sophomore forward Nick Ward was being harassed by two Indiana defenders on the right side of the court before hauling a one-handed pass across his body to a wide open Cassius Winston in the opposite corner.
Against the Wolverines, that same pass-attempt out of the double team would have likely resulted in a turnover but against the Hoosiers the outcome was a successfully-converted 3-point attempt, one of many for the Spartans on the night.
"That was a beautiful pass to Cash (Winston)," head coach Tom Izzo said in his postgame press conference. "But it was the execution of what we wanted to get done that was more impressive than even if he would have missed the shot."
No. 9 MSU successfully rebounded from their disappointing home loss to rival Michigan last week, blowing out Indiana, 85-57, Friday night at the Breslin Center.
The Spartan’ offense operated more efficiently against the Hoosiers than it did in the team’s recent games. The team connected on 54 percent of its field goals on Friday after shooting it at no better than 45 percent in each of its previous three contests.
"I give a lot of credit to our players because it's been a difficult week there's no question about it," head coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "In general I'm just pleased with the way we played."
The action swung back and forth early on, before MSU went on a 14-0 run to take a 24-10 advantage at about the halfway point in the first half. The run ultimately was what did the Hoosiers in as they wouldn’t get much closer to the Spartans from that point on.
The Spartans dominant first half was highlighted by a dunk exchange featuring an alley-oop to a baseline-running Miles Bridges off an assist from sophomore point guard Cassius Winston, followed by an and-1 breakaway dunk by freshman forward Xavier Tillman on the team’s very next possession.
"They were able over the course of time to just wear us down," Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. "They were really ready and prepared and I think they showed that they have a fantastic team."
MSU took a 20-point lead into halftime and expanded on the lead immediately to the start the second half, going on a quick 8-2 spurt.
Bridges led the Spartans in scoring on the night with 22 points with 13 of them coming in the first half. Ward followed closely behind with 18 of his own on 7-9 shooting from the floor.
"I thought Miles brought some incredible energy early," Izzo said.
With the win the team now holds sole position of fourth place in the Big Ten standings and will have a couple days to recharge before traveling to play Illinois (10-9, 0-6) at the State Farm Center on Monday.