It took a few minutes Sunday evening for Michigan State to find its groove, but when it did, there was nothing stopping the Spartans from cruising to a victory in their first game in more than a week.
Ninth-ranked Michigan State (9-2) used a 27-4 run in the first half to blow the game open and earn a 104-83 victory over Green Bay at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
Nick Ward scored a career-high 28 points on 12-for-13 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds and blocking four shots for the Spartans. Ward was one of six players in double figures as Cassius Winston scored 16, Joshua Langford added 13 and Matt McQuaid chipped in 12. Freshmen Gabe Brown and Foster Loyer added 11 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench.
Sandy Cohen III scored 22 to lead Green Bay (6-6) while JayQuan McCloud added 17 points. Kameron Hankerson chipped in 11 points for the Phoenix and Manny Patterson scored 10.
The Spartans weren’t exactly sluggish to start, but the Phoenix were on fire, making 10 of their first 15 shots and opening a 22-17 lead on Michigan State with 14 minutes to play in the first half.
That’s when things cooled off for Green Bay and Michigan State took off by outscoring Green Bay 47-13 the rest of the way to take a 64-35 lead at the break, the most first-half points for Michigan State since it scored 63 last season against Cleveland State. The Spartans made their last seven shots of the half, including a flurry in the final seconds.
Winston drove the length of the court and scored on a layup with just less than five seconds left in the half. Xavier Tillman then stole the inbounds pass and hit a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to cap a 12-0 surge to close the half.
Ward was 9 for 9 from the field, scoring 22 points and blocking four shots. Winston and McQuaid each scored 10 for the Spartans while Winston also had eight of his 12 assists in the half.
It was more of the same in the second half as Michigan State pushed its lead to 34 points before the backups started getting more minutes and the Phoenix started hitting deep 3s, though too late to do anything other than trim the final margin.
—Field Level Media