No. 3 MSU’s six game winning streak was in jeopardy at the Rutgers Athletic Center Tuesday night, but the Spartans (8-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) would hang on for their seventh-straight win at the expense of Rutgers (6-3, 0-2) in a defensive grudge match, 62-52.
Sophomore wing Miles Bridges carried MSU with 21 points and five rebounds in the team's first win on a visiting team's home court this season. Starting power forward Jaren Jackson finished with 11 points, three rebounds and eight blocks, which tied a school record.
The Scarlet Knights started the game on a 10-2 run through the first five minutes. Bridges and Jackson were benched in that span for early fouls.
A three from junior wing Matt McQuaid on MSU’s next scoring possession ended the Scarlet Knights’ run and sparked a 19-4 run over the next nine minutes. Bridges went off for 11 points, including a jumper that gave MSU its first lead of the game.
Rutgers, however, continued to fight back and took the lead with 1:25 till halftime on a jumper from Geo Baker to cap off an 11-2 run to make it 25-23. Sophomore guard Joshua Langford gave MSU a brief 26-25 lead with 32 seconds left in the half, but Bridges was called for his second half and a free throw from Mike Williams tied the game at 26 at the half.
Despite the low offensive output, MSU shot 40 percent in the first half and 4-of-10 from three, it held Rutgers to 10-of-24 from the floor and 2 threes. Bridges led all scorers at the half with 13.
MSU tried to separate itself early in the second half with a baskets from Langford, Bridges and senior forward Gavin Schilling. Back-to-back scores midway through the second half momentarily gave Rutgers the 35-34 lead, but four unanswered buckets gave MSU the 42-35 lead with 10:48 to play.
After a Bridges three, Corey Sanders kept it a two-point game but Rutgers would miss its next seven attempts from the field. The Scarlet Knight settled for free throws, and allowed MSU to separate for a nine point lead with 2:19 to play.
A three from point guard Cassius Winston with 1:42 dealt the final blow and pushed MSU’s lead to a game-high 10 points. Rutgers tried to foul its way back into the game, but Bridges and Langford both made their free throws and maintained the game for head coach Tom Izzo.
The Spartans finished shooting 28.6 percent with eight threes and held Rutgers to 25.8 percent shooting, 26.7 percent from deep.
MSU will rest until Saturday, until it hosts Southern Utah (4-3) to the Breslin Center on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
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