Joshua Langford made a go-ahead 3-pointer during the final minute of overtime, and No. 4 Michigan State escaped with a 76-72 home victory over Rutgers on Wednesday.
Nick Ward collected 17 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. supplied 16 points and five rebounds for the Spartans. Langford and Cassius Winston had 12 points apiece and All-America candidate Miles Bridges added 11 after a slow start for Michigan State (16-2 overall, 4-1 Big Ten).
Corey Sanders led Rutgers (11-7, 1-4) with 22 points and Deshawn Freeman tossed in 15.
Bridges got the overtime session started with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Mike Williams’ putback with 2:21 remaining gave the Scarlet Knights a 65-64 lead. After three Spartans points, Sanders tied it with a jumper. Langford then drilled his corner 3 after a kick-out pass from Winston with 59 seconds left.
Following a Rutgers miss, Winston gave the Spartans some breathing room with two free throws. Candido Sa’s first three of the season pulled the Scarlet Knights within two, but Winston made four more throws to secure the Spartans’ victory.
Bridges was shut out before halftime but Michigan State emerged with a 32-25 advantage.
Ward’s dunk with 11 minutes left ended a Spartans scoring drought that lasted just over six minutes. But Geo Baker’s three with 9:55 left knotted the score at 39.
Bridges finally broke through with 7:41 left, making it 45-41.
Langford’s 3 with the shot clock about to expire nudged the lead to 50-43. But Rutgers wouldn’t go away, and when Freeman hit a 3 with 1:59 to go, it was a two-point game at 57-55. Freeman’s steal and two free throws with 1:29 left tied it.
After Jackson made 1-of-2 free throws, Sanders scored from the elbow with 1:01 left to give the Scarlet Knights a 59-58 edge. Following a Bridges turnover and missed Sanders jumper, Bridges was fouled by Thiam.
Bridges was able to make only the second free throw, and Sanders missed again from just inside the 3-point line, sending the game to overtime.
--Field Level Media