Izzo wants Spartans to go inside to Bridges
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Miles Bridges provided a glimpse on Friday of what he can do when he gets rolling offensively. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo would like to see his team feed the ball to his freshman phenom more often.
Bridges converted all but one of his 11 shots in the first half of a 100-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State. He scored only three points after halftime but finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Izzo wants to see the Spartans rely consistently on the talents of the 6-foot-7 Bridges, rather than take 28 3-point shots, as it did on Friday.
They will get another chance on Sunday when the No. 13 Spartans host Florida Gulf Coast.
“I am not looking for that at all,” Izzo said of the 3-point shots. “I'm really looking to get the ball to Miles inside a little more.”
Bridges bounced back from a six-point, nine-turnover performance against No. 2 Kentucky earlier in the week.
“He became more of a normal human being at the start of the second half,” Izzo said. “I like him abnormal, personally. And that's what I told him at the end. We just gotta keep that fire.
“But he was never lazy, maybe the competitiveness, the want to win games, is there. But the competitiveness, the want to score or rebound, make assists, be aggressive, I thought dropped off a little bit in the second half.”
Although Izzo wants to pound the ball inside, the Spartans' top perimeter threats regained their strokes. Senior Eron Harris and sophomore Matt McQuaid drained five 3-pointers apiece against the Delta Devils.
The Spartans (1-2) need to get in a groove with three upcoming games from Wednesday through Friday at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
“We're ready to go into the next game,” Harris said. “We're feeling good right now. We need to get back-to-back wins so we can go into the Bahamas feeling good.
“Everything happened for us (Friday), but we still can improve. We still need to play better defense, we need to rebound the ball, and we need to take care of the ball a little better, too.”
The Eagles (1-2) figure to offer more resistance to the Spartans than winless Mississippi Valley. They gave Baylor a tough battle on Friday, losing on the road 81-72.
Florida Gulf Coast trailed by 10 at the half but was down only one with less than three minutes remaining.
“Baylor did a good job in the first half of throwing the ball inside and putting us on our heels,” Eagles coach Joe Dooley said. “A lot of those buckets that they got — and the reason they shot such a high percentage — was because we turned over too many live-ball situations.”
Guard Brandon Goodwin, who leads the club with a 20.0 average, had a team-high 22 points against the Bears and guard Zach Johnson (15.7 average per game) added 17.
The Eagles have been playing without their top returning scorer and rebounder, Marc-Eddy Norelia, who is recovering from a broken left hand.
Baylor still needed a late 9-0 run to put them away, which should put the Spartans on notice.
“We regrouped in the second half and had our defense a little bit more situated,” Dooley said. “We got into a better offensive flow. At the end, they made some plays and picked up a couple loose balls under the basket.”