FINAL: No. 6 men's basketball pulls away from Wisconsin
In the closing minutes of the first half of the men’s basketball team’s throttling of Wisconsin, sophomore forward Miles Bridges lunged to the top of the key to recover a deflected pass from sophomore forward Nick Ward, and proceeded to calmly knock down a 3-pointer with a Wisconsin defender flying towards him.
The ball sunk through the net as the shot clock buzzer expired to give the team its largest lead of the night up to that point in the game. The play not only summarized the night for the Spartans, but it also summed up Bridges superb play over the past couple of games.
No. 6 MSU (18-3, 7-2) shot 50 percent overall in its, 76-61, victory over Wisconsin Friday night at the Breslin Center and the team committed just 13 turnovers, a big improvement from the squads’ previous outing against Illinois on Monday, in which the team turned it over a season-high 25 times.
While the team was able to nearly cut their turnover total in half from their last game, head coach Tom Izzo still wasn't satisfied with that area of the offense.
"The only negatives I saw was that we had three turnovers at halftime and then in the second half we had ten," Izzo said in his postgame press conference.
Bridges followed up his 31-point outing against Illinois by dropping in a game-high 24 points on the Badgers, and scored 15 of them in the first half.
Hyper efficiency has been a common theme the last couple of games for the 6-foot-7 product out of Flint, Michigan. Bridges connected on 62 percent of his shots against the Badgers, after going 11-of-13 from the floor on Monday.
"I'm just trying to be more aggressive because I know it's going to get my teammates open," Bridges said.
The opening minutes of the game played a huge role in how the final outcome of the contest was decided, as the Badgers started just 2-of-9. The Spartans capitalized of Wisconsin’s early struggling offense by going on an 11-0 run about midway through the first half to take a 22-8 advantage.
The spurt featured a pair of 3-pointers by Bridges and consecutive lay-ups by second-year guard Cassius Winston.
The team led by as many as 18 points in the first half and took a 16-point lead into halftime. Wisconsin junior forward Ethan Happ only scored one point in the first half. The 2016-17 AP Big Ten player of the year entered the game averaging close to 17 points per game for the Badgers.
Wisconsin cut the Spartan’s lead down to as few as six points with about nine minutes left in the second half on a layup by Happ, two of his 22 points in the half.
The Badgers were able to climb back in the game aided by MSU coughing the ball up 10 times in the second half after the team had just three turnovers before halftime. But a pair of 3-pointers by Winston, along with consecutive two-handed dunks by freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. off offensive rebounds helped close the door on the Badgers’ comeback attempt.
The team will have a day to rest up before traveling to play Maryland (15-7, 4-5) on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.