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Bridges, No. 2 Michigan State steamroll Houston Baptist
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Miles Bridges found plenty of open space against an undersized opponent. That allowed him to bounce back from one of his worst offensive performances.
Bridges tied his career high with 33 points and No. 2 Michigan State stretched its winning streak to 10 games by rolling past Houston Baptist 107-62 on Monday at the Breslin Center.
The sophomore forward, who also contributed six rebounds and five assists, scored 33 points against Purdue last January. He went 11 of 14 from the field on Monday, just the second time this season he shot better than 50 percent from the field. Bridges had just 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting with one assist against Oakland on Saturday.
“I was just taking whatever the defense gave me,” Bridges said. “My teammates did a great job of getting me open. Our point guards did a great job of passing the ball and our bigs did a great job of passing the ball out of the post. All my shots were open or I was just getting to the rim.”
Michigan State’s Nick Ward added 20 points while making all nine of his field goal attempts and also grabbed six rebounds.
“By far the best player on the court for us,” Spartans coach Tim Izzo said of Ward.
Jaren Jackson collected a team-high eight rebounds and made six of the Spartans’ school-record 16 blocks before fouling out. Izzo was unimpressed with the new mark.
“We blocked shots because we were a lot bigger than the team we played,” he said.
The Spartans’ backcourt duo also made notable contributions. Joshua Langford had 14 points while Cassius Winston supplied 10 points and a career-high 12 assists.
Michigan State (11-1) shot a season-high 64.3 percent from the field (36-for-56) while holding Houston Baptist (4-8) to 28.4 percent shooting (21-for-74).
Yet Izzo came away much more impressed by the opponent.
“I was never prouder of a team than I was of their team,” he said. “They were overmatched on size, and for a team like that to get 24 offensive rebounds, they just absolutely embarrassed us. I told my team there’s two kinds of efforts. There’s efforts to win games and there’s efforts to win championships. We gave an effort to win a game.”
Bridges agreed with his coach.
“We played average,” he said. “He has high expectations for us because he knows what we can do. We just need to get better at our rebounding and turnovers.”
Jalon Gates led the Huskies with 17 points while Braxton Bonds and Ian DuBose added 10 apiece.
Houston Baptist’s Josh Ibarra, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, missed his second straight game with a foot injury. The Spartans were the highest-ranked school the Huskies have ever faced.
“It was a tough matchup for us tonight,” Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell said. “I was really pleased with the fact our guys never backed down.”
Michigan State’s length made it impossible for his team to keep it close.
“They’re just so tenacious defensively,” he said. “You get around one, you get another one meeting you. You’re not going to be able to finish much at the rim when they block 16 shots. They’re as good as any team I’ve seen in quite some time.”
Bridges scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting during the first half as the Spartans led 54-33 at halftime.
Michigan State opened the second half with eight unanswered points, six by Ward. The Huskies went scoreless until David Caraher made a baseline shot 3:33 into the half.
Ward’s dunk with 8:56 left pushed the Spartans’ lead to 35, 82-47.
NOTES: The schools were meeting for the first time. ... Michigan State has a 9-0 record against teams currently in the Southland Conference. ... The Spartans host Long Beach State on Thursday, while the Huskies play a road game against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. ... Houston Baptist senior G Will Gates and sophomore G Jalon Gates are sons of Will Gates Sr., who starred in the 1994 film Hoop Dreams.