Freshman forward Miles Bridges made his first appearance for MSU men's basketball (11-5 overall, 3-0) against Rutgers (11-5 overall, 0-3) since competing against then-No. 5 Duke on Nov. 29. The Spartans would defeat the Scarlet Knights 93-65.
Bridges welcomed the Spartan fans with an ally opp slam off of their first offensive possession. Bridges would add a driving layup in the first half to finish his first half at 4 points. In the second half, Bridges struggled to find a rhythm.
With 8:10 remaining in the second half, Bridges forced a steal, leading the break with freshman guard Cassius Winston. Winston would peak back at the trailing Bridges, toss the ball up softly and Bridges would deliver a right handed tomahawk slam.
Bridges would finish his night with 6 points and 6 rebounds in 17 minutes.
After taking a 10 point advantage in the first half, the Spartans retained and pushed their lead to 20 points in the first 8 minutes of the second half. While the Spartans overcame a 13 point halftime deficit against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Dec. 27, they would refused to let the Scarlet Knights crawl back in this game.
In a three offensive possession series, the Spartans converted with three straight dunks. First the Bridges haymaker, followed by a two-handed dunk by freshman forward Nick Ward and a graceful two handed dunk by sophomore forward Kenny Goins.
Fifth-year senior Eron Harris provided a scoring spark in the first half, scoring 13 points on 3-6 shooting. Early in the second half, Harris would bury two more 3-point baskets. In Harris' last two outings before the Rutgers game, he notched just a 4 point and 5 point performance.
Defensively, the Spartans blocked 10 shots and consistently held the Scarlet Knights to extended periods with no baskets. One of which included a stretch of over five minutes in which Rutgers did not convert a single field goal.
While the Spartans lost the points in the paint battle by four points, MSU was efficient from beyond the arc and from the free throw line. MSU was 11-22 from the 3-point line and 16-22 from the free throw line.
The Scarlet Knights however, shot 3-8 from beyond the arc and clanked a free throw percentage of 44 percent. Harris had five 3-point field goals himself.
Offensively, the Spartans shared the ball, assisting 26 times on 33 field goals. MSU had 11 players finish with at least one basket.
The only bright spot for the Scarlet Knights was guard Corey Sanders, who scored 22 points.
Final Game Leaders
Points — Harris with 24 points
Rebounds — 3 players tied with 6 (Bridges, Goins and Ward)
Assists — Winston with 8 assists
The Spartans will be on the road in their next contest against Penn State on Jan. 7. The game is set to tip-off at 1 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
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