Michigan State overpowers Houston Baptist 107-62
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges leaped for a lob and dunked over a 6-foot-10 center , made four 3-pointers and sprinted around screens to set up some shots in between.
Bridges matched his career high with 33 points, leading No. 2 Michigan State in a 107-62 win over Houston Baptist on Monday night.
“You can see his athleticism is finally back,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “Offensively, Miles was as good as he’s been since he’s been here.”
The sophomore sprained his left ankle in the third game of the season, keeping him out of one game and slowing him in some additional games.
Bridges has looked like a preseason All-American in some games since the injury, but he often deferred to teammates when he had the ball. Against the Huskies, he was in attack mode.
“I was just trying to find the open spots and my teammates were finding me,” he said. “I was trying to get everything they gave me, but everything felt good.”
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward had 20 points in the first half, making 8 of 11 shots and going 3 of 6 beyond the arc. He finished 11 of 14 overall, 4 of 7 on 3-pointers and 7 of 7 at the line to match the 33-point total he had last season against Purdue.
“He’s so big and strong and skilled,” HBU coach Ron Cottrell said. “He knocked down shots even when we were there. He makes all the little plays and does the little things to get himself looks.”
Michigan State (11-1) has won 10 straight since losing to top-ranked Duke.
The Spartans set a school record with 16 blocked shots. Freshman Jaren Jackson had six blocks before fouling out in 18 minutes, and Nick Ward had four blocks to go with his 20 points and six rebounds. Joshua Langford added 14 points.
Houston Baptist (4-8) stayed relatively close until Michigan State’s 18-6 run late in the first half. Reserve Jalon Gates scored 17 points while Ian DuBose and Braxton Bonds each had 10 for the Huskies, who were held to 28 percent shooting.
“Shots weren’t going in for us, but Michigan State had a lot to do with that,” Cottrell said. “They’re so tenacious defensively. You’re not going to be able to finish much at the rim.”
Houston Baptist: The Huskies played physically throughout, even late when they were losing by 50-plus points and playing without their leading scorer, senior center Josh Ibarra.
“Our guys never backed down,” Cottrell said. “They didn’t stop competing.”
“As far as heart, courage and toughness, they played with it,” he said. “And we didn’t and that’s what I told their coach.”
Michigan State: Izzo isn’t happy. He said it was embarrassing and a shame to let an undersized team get 24 offensive rebounds. And, Izzo said he called the earliest timeout of his career — just 1:34 into the game — after the team had three turnovers following pre-game instructions that stressed taking care of the ball.
“I think we lead the world in unforced turnovers,” Izzo said. “Those things are not something we can take lightly anymore.”
The Spartans finished with 14 turnovers, approaching their average that was spiked by a season-high 24 in a rout over North Carolina.
“If we want to be a great team, we can’t do that,” Bridges said. “If we fix our turnovers and our rebounding, we can take a step and be a great team.”
BOX SCORE BITS
Michigan State’s Cassius Winston had a career-high 12 assists for a team that made 64 percent of its shots overall, 58 percent of 3-pointers and 76 percent of its free throws.
Houston Baptist: Plays at Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.
Michigan State: Hosts Long Beach State on Thursday night.