Bridges' game-winning shot against No. 3 Purdue 'felt like a movie'
It was a moment MSU wing Miles Bridges has been waiting for. But it didn’t go exactly as planned.
Tied 65-all with 20 seconds remaining, MSU coach Tom Izzo called a timeout to draw up a play.
With the ball in hand, Bridges, a 6-foot-7 standout from Flint who returned to East Lansing for his sophomore season, dribbled near the top of the key. Instead of driving past Purdue’s Dakota Mathias to layup the go-ahead shot, he decided to play hero.
“He was supposed to drive it and get fouled, but if you’re from Flint, to hell with that I’ll just jack a three,” Izzo said.
The shot hung in the air, and seemingly all 14,797 at the Breslin Center grew quiet. Bridges’ shot connected and MSU players and fans went into a frenzy.
“I just took what he gave me,” Bridges said. “I saw him back off and that’s when I shot the three.”
With 2.7 seconds left in the game, Bridges’ NBA-range three completed the No. 4 Spartans 68-65 win against No. 3 Purdue (23-4, 12-2 Big Ten). After the shot, MSU (24-3, 12-2), which trailed by 10 in the first half, managed to rebound a missed free throw from Purdue’s Carsen Edwards to run off the clock.
Bridges scored a team-high 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He was instrumental in the 8-0 run — of which Bridges scored six — that gave MSU a 59-55 lead, it’s first of the game, with 6:38 left to play.
“That definitely did feel like a movie,” said point guard Cassius Winston, who finished behind Bridges with 10 points and 10 rebounds. “When he shot it and it was in the air, it definitely felt like we were in a movie. Then he hit it all net like that. It was crazy.”
It was a high-risk, high-reward play, but Bridges said he saw the opportunity and couldn’t pass up the easy shot.
“I thought it was going to roll around or something was going to happen, but it went in,” he said. “Yeah, coach would have been mad, but chances make champions. That’s what I always say.”
Despite ditching the script, Izzo begrudgingly agreed with the shot.
“In all honesty, it was the right play,” Izzo said. “They backed off him, cleared that side. I really thought it was going to work and I was standing there and where I was standing I could see it going right in.”
Through the last nine games, Bridges averages 21.4 points, up from his season average of 17.6, perhaps because the Spartans are designing plays to get Bridges the ball more. In that span, Izzo is happy Bridges has been trying to put the team on his back.
“He’s such an unselfish guy,” Izzo said. “I think you’re seeing that I picked a bad couple of words the last few weeks in different things and one with him was being more of a jerk instead of maybe being more aggressive or more of this.
“I think he’s really starting to become more aggressive, and he wanted that ball and I wanted to give it to him.”
Game-winning shots like the one Saturday were part of the reason Bridges returned for a second season, he admitted. But to even be at MSU, Bridges said it’s been a “blessing” to try and bring Izzo his second National Championship.
The win puts the Spartans tied for second with the Boilermakers in the conference, one game behind No. 14 Ohio State. But with the NCAA Tournament implications Saturday’s game may have had, the win could have cemented a top seed for March.
But Izzo said the Spartans are going to take one game at a time. And celebrate the hard-earned win.
“He got what he deserved today because he made the big plays and the place was in elaborate form,” Izzo said. “He came back to be in these kind of games. He came back to try and help us win a championship of some kind. We have a lot of games left and a lot of things to go on yet.”