EAST LANSING, Mich. — Miles Bridges returned to the Michigan State lineup and Eron Harris scored 24 points as the Spartans won their fourth game in the row, beating Rutgers 93-65 Wednesday night at the Breslin Center.
Harris, Nick Ward (15) and Matt McQuaid (12) all scored in double figures but it was the return from a high ankle sprain by Bridges that was the highlight of the game. Bridges had missed the last seven games, his last action coming at Duke on Nov. 29 in a 78-69 loss. He played 17 minutes, scoring 6 points with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. He scored twice on thunderous dunks, showing off emphatically that the ankle is feeling good.
Rutgers began the game with a 6-0 run before Harris hit his first 3-pointer. Michigan State took its first lead, 15-13, on a steal and layup by senior guard Alvin Harris III with 14:15 left in the first half. The Spartans led at halftime, 42-32, and finished with 26 assists on their 33 made baskets while committing just 11 turnovers.
Michigan State has had its troubles from the foul line this season but made 16 of 22 on Wednesday, including 13 of 17 in the first half.
WHY IT HAPPENED: Rutgers came into the game leading the Big Ten in defensive field goal percentage (37.5 percent) but Michigan State shot 57.9 from the field, including making half of its 3-pointers (11 of 22). Harris was 5 of 8 from behind the arc as he had his second-highest scoring game of the season. It’s the fourth time he has made at least 5 3-pointers in a game this season.
WHAT IT MEANS: The four-game winning streak has come at the beginning of league play, and the Spartans now stand at 3-0 in the Big Ten. The conference season has a long way to go but after losing to Northeastern on Dec. 18 the Spartans have started to find a little bit of a groove.
WHO STARRED: It didn’t matter what kind of stats Bridges produced, the simple fact that he got back out on the court was reason enough to make him the star. He entered the game with 15:56 left in the first half and it took him just 16 seconds to score, slamming home an alley-oop pass from Matt McQuaid.
WHO STUMBLED: Cassius Winston has stepped up his game in Bridges’ absence but was relatively quiet Wednesday. He scored just 2 points and did not grab a rebound in the game. He did have eight assists to add to his Big Ten-leading average of 6.0-per-game.
WHO WAS THERE: Michigan State commit Foster Loyer and his father John were at the Breslin Center. Foster Loyer is a 6-foot junior point guard from Clarkston, Mich., whose father is a former assistant coach and interim head coach of the NBA Detroit Pistons.
WHO IS NEXT: Michigan State travels to Philadelphia to face Penn State at the Palestra on Saturday. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Final from the Breslin: Michigan State 93, Rutgers 65. Harris 24 points, Bridges plays 17 minutes in return. pic.twitter.com/UHD1tTVEuD
— Kevin Goheen (@CincyGoGo) January 5, 2017