Survive and advance.
Michigan State didn’t necessarily have to survive a scare Friday night in its first-round matchup against No. 14 Bucknell, but the Bison hung around throughout the game. The Spartans would pull away in the latter stages of the contest, but the Bison made the final score look closer than it was.
Michigan State exited with a 82-78 victory.
Miles Bridges led all scorers with his 29 points. Cassius Winston also stood out with his 11-point, 10-assist performance.
The two teams tied each other in the second half, but Michigan State led at halftime by four. The Spartans out-rebounded the Bison, 40-24 and shot 53.4 percent from the field as a team.
With the win, the No. 3 Spartans will play the winner of No. 6 TCU-No. 11 Syracuse on Sunday. Syracuse played in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four and defeated Arizona State to get into the field of 64.
If Michigan State gets past either TCU or Syracuse, the Spartans will face the winner of No. 2 Duke-No. 7 Rhode Island on March 23. The Spartans and Blue Devils played each other this season on Nov. 15 in the Champions Classic. Duke won that game, 88-81.
After the Spartans’ win over Bucknell, Tom Izzo talked with the media.
What Tom Izzo said after Michigan State’s victory over Bucknell
“I thought that was one of the more bizarre games. Physical, out of control. I didn’t think we took over when we were up 11, and I blame Miles, Cassius and myself.” Tom Izzo pic.twitter.com/OO8GKiONCV
— Justin Rose (@JRoseWXYZ) March 17, 2018
Izzo’s opening statement: “And the second half we got rolling again. And thanks to Cassius running the thing and we really went to Miles and Josh we went to all night. So I thought everybody stepped up and kind of ashamed they hit all those 3s at the end, but at the same time give them credit. They made some shots.
“I thought for the most part the second half we played very, very well even defensively. And I thought offensively we moved the ball very well and even missed some good shots.
“So considering the lay-off, I thought we were pretty sharp in maybe 30 minutes of the game but when we weren’t sharp, it was really disappointing how we — it wasn’t one mistake, it was like 3s and 4s and that’s got to change if we’re going to be moving on.”
On where Michigan State is at right now: “We said going in, you know, T.J. and I talked about, we kind of talked about our substitution pattern and we said we were going to put X in there early. We said we were going to get Ben in there. Kind of unfair to Ben because he hasn’t played much, and yet he’s been doing such an unbelievable job in practice, especially against zones and that. Our offense works better through him. We wanted to get his feet wet.
“Like I said, I was really pleased. It shouldn’t have been a 4-point game. And taking nothing away from them. But I thought we played very well for most of that game. They’re a good team. I mean, I saw some of the 3 and 2 and 4 seeds, or 15, 14 and 13 seeds, and I swear to God, when I first watched them on film I said, you know, this is Middle Tennessee-plus.
“And I just — I think what we didn’t do, and I did tell Cassius and Miles this, when we made a mistake, we let it carry over to two and three and even four a couple times. And I told Nick that.
“And so we’re still growing. I mean, we’re still trying to get better. But we really took a big step, because it was a physical game. I can’t believe Josh Langford got a technical. He hasn’t said a word since he’s been on campus. There were some questions I had on some things. But I thought in general, considering we’re playing without Jaren Jackson, who, when he was in there, was awfully effective for the, I don’t know, five minutes he was in there.
“And so I think this team still has a ways to go. I think we found out what we said, that a tough player makes a difference. And Xavier was just tougher than everybody. And Miles is right. I did get on Miles. I got on him at halftime. But, boy, we started running some stuff from him and he started answering the bell, one after the other, and the tip dunk kind of typified it. And so I think we’re making some progress. We took a step forward. There’s no question about that.”
Izzo on Bucknell: "I swear to god when I saw them on film I thought, 'this is Middle Tennessee State-plus'." #NCAADetroit
— RTC Midwest Region (@RTCMWRegion) March 17, 2018
Tom Izzo: "I can't believe Josh Langford got a technical. He hasn't said a word since he's been on campus."
— Mike Foss (@MikeFossWXYZ) March 17, 2018
Tom Izzo on Miles Bridges playing more selfish “the players wanted to run it thru him, he wanted the ball, and he asked for it” #Spartans
— Justin Rose (@JRoseWXYZ) March 17, 2018