EAST LANSING, Mich. — Freshman Miles Bridges had a sluggish first two games back from injury. There was nothing sluggish about Bridges or Michigan State on Wednesday night, however.
Bridges scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including his first two 3-pointers since returning from a high ankle sprain, and Michigan State held No. 24 Minnesota to its lowest point total of the season in a 65-47 victory at the Breslin Center.
Michigan State (12-6, 4-1 Big Ten) ended the first half on a 15-0 run to turn a tight game into a 39-17 affair at intermission. It’s the second win in two weeks for the Spartans against Minnesota (15-3, 3-2). They came from 13 points down in the second half on Dec. 27 to win 75-74 in overtime at Williams Arena. Minnesota shot 45 free throws in that game, making 31, but attempted just seven shots from the foul line in the rematch.
Bridges scored six straight points as Michigan State took an 11-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game Wednesday. The Spartans never trailed and the game was tied just once, 2-2.
Three of the previous four games between the teams had gone to overtime but Michigan State responded to its first league loss against Penn State last Saturday in convincing fashion.
Michigan State played defense from the outset. Unlike the Penn State loss, where the Nittany Lions shot 60 percent (18 of 30) in the first half, Minnesota made just 8 of its 30 field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes as Michigan State took that 22-point lead to the locker room. It was the lowest first-half point total for Minnesota this season. Minnesota was averaging 77.4 points per game entering the game.
What it means
Michigan State sweeps the season series with Minnesota and stays at the top of the Big Ten standings. As competitive as the conference appears to be in the first couple of weeks, holding serve at home is going to be important in the title race.
The Michigan State wing players. Head coach Tom Izzo has been looking for better production from this group. He got it Wednesday. Bridges, Eron Harris, Joshua Langford and Alvin Ellis III combined for 42 points on 16-of-31 shooting.
Minnesota guards Nate Mason and Amir Coffey. Mason was held scoreless in the first half before scoring 14 points to equal his season average in the second. By that time, Minnesota was in too deep a hole to climb out. Coffey was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday and averages 12.8 points per game but scored just 4 points on Wednesday.
Who was there
East Lansing High School 4-star forward Brandon Johns, the top 2018 prospect in Michigan, was in attendance. … Michigan State honored volleyball player Rachel Minarick and hockey player Joe Cox as part of its Champions in the in the Classroom program. … The Izzone was up to the challenge of its first Big Ten game in the second semester. When Minnesota’s Eric Curry was called for tripping Bridges, the student section almost immediately began chanting “Grayson Allen” in homage to the Duke junior who was suspended for one game this season after tripping an opponent.
Who is next
Michigan State travels to Columbus for a 1:30 p.m. ET game against Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes (10-6, 0-3) and Rutgers (11-6, 0-4) are the lone winless teams in conference play heading into Thursday.
Final: Michigan State goes to 12-6, 4-1 in Big Ten with 65-47 win over No. 24 Minnesota pic.twitter.com/lOmU3dRKrs
— Kevin Goheen (@CincyGoGo) January 12, 2017