McQuaid steps up as Michigan State downs DePaul
PORTLAND, Ore. — With star guard Miles Bridges sidelined due to a sprained ankle, Michigan State knew other players were going to have to step up.
Matt McQuaid, who came into the game averaging 5.3 points, scored 20 in leading the fourth-ranked Spartans to a 73-51 victory over DePaul on Thursday night in the Phil Knight Invitational’s Victory Bracket.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Joshua Langford added 10 points for Michigan State (3-1). Cassius Winston was solid all-around with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“Our bigs by committee played pretty well. Jaren Jackson the best,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I told Cassius Winston he played better defensively than offensively; he did a hell of a job offensively in the second half.”
Eli Cain and Max Strus led DePaul (1-3) with 12 points apiece.
“I thought we did a heck of a job on Strus,” Izzo said. “It was a big thing for him to go 1-for-10.”
Michigan State advances to a second-round game on Friday against Connecticut, a 71-63 winner over Oregon earlier Thursday.
With Michigan State trailing 35-33 early in the second half, the Spartans went on an 18-2 run, fueled by seven points from Langford and nine by McQuaid.
The Spartans locked down DePaul defensively in the second half, holding the Blue Demons to 20 points on 21.7 percent (5-of-23) shooting. Michigan State also shot 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc in the half.
“Our team had to play ugly and win. I mean we just knuckled down defensively,” Izzo said. “To hold that team to that (shooting) percentage, that spoke volumes about what I learned from my team.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team finding much offense.
After DePaul seized the lead early, the Spartans rallied behind McQuaid’s 11 first-half points.
DePaul, despite shooting 28.6 percent in the first half, stayed in the game because it continued to attack the rim. The Blue Demons went 11 of 15 from the foul line in the half to make up the difference.
The Blue Demons appeared to have momentum going into halftime as Cain sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game at 31.
For the game, DePaul shot just 25.5 percent from the floor while Michigan State finished at 47.2 percent.
NOTES: The status of Michigan State F Miles Bridges (sprained ankle) for Friday was unknown. ... Spartans G Matt McQuaid’s 20 points were a career high, surpassing his old best of 15. McQuaid’s six made 3-pointers were also a career high, passing his old mark of five last year. ... The Spartans posted a 39-24 rebounding edge.