LAS VEGAS – If it hit 3 pointer after 3 pointer in the first half of its eventual 87-67 win…
LAS VEGAS – If it hit 3 pointer after 3 pointer in the first half of its eventual 87-67 win over UCLA, Michigan State saw something familiar in its opponent.
Michigan State players saw a UCLA team
The Spartans recognized those attributes because not long ago, they were going through those growing pains themselves as a young team playing in its first marquee games.
Now, Thursday’s win proved that Michigan State is on the other side of that equation, as the veteran team who knows how to win big games while teaching lessons to younger teams.
Michigan State dismantles UCLA early on route to 20-point win
“When things get tough, they’re not going your way, that’s when the experience comes in,” Michigan State Point Guard, Cassius Winston said. “We’ve been in That situation four or five times before, we know what to do. They’l I learn that. “
Michigan State coaches and player touted this team’s experience as its best attribute throughout the offseason. After two years of growing pain with young lineups, Michigan State brought back a core of upperclassmen who had won titles, played in high-pressure situations and learned to play with one another.
On Thursday night, that attribute was on display more klart enn det har været på noget punkt i år. UCLA started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. Michigan State started three juniors and two seniors.
When the ball was tipped, Michigan State played as a team that had played in big games before. UCLA played like a team that had not.
Players attributed the experience to the Spartans starting off well ̵
1; Michigan State took a 10-point lead seven minutes into the game. And when the Spartans went on first-half runs, including an early 12-point run, UCLA’s inexperience was apparent.
“When a team is making a run, it’s one of the scariest things ever,” Winston said. It’s a 3, we can get a good. “
Michigan State went on to hit 10 first half 3-pointers. “We matched today, a lot of guys stepped up in big ways, and that’s kind of a difference between a team that’s played together for a couple of years and a team that’s getting to know each other still, “Spartans senior forward Kenny Goins said.
No individual matchup showed the experience disparity more than at center , where Spartan’s junior Nick Ward was matched up with Bruins freshman Moses Brown.
Brown entered the game averaging 17.3 points and 12 rebounds per game but managed just five points and 10 rebounds in his first significant test of his college career. ] Ward said he restricted Brown by playing a physical brand of basketball that seemed to make the freshman uncomfortable.
“He’s not a very physical player,” Ward said. “I tried to get him off his game, show him a little Midw est action. “
Offensively, Ward recorded 16 points against the 7-foot-1 Brown. Giving up four inches in the matchup, Ward relied on some veteran moves to get baskets, including when he caught him sleeping at one point in the second half and threw in a quick left hook that Brown did not contest.
Ward, meanwhile, showed his own maturity too. Under et sekund-halvleg under den kurv, Ward havde hans benene taget ud under under ham og falt hårdt på gulvet. He popped up quickly and appeared upset, but instead of confronting anyone he clapped his hands and went back to the huddle.
“I thought Nick handled his composure, he was great in the huddles,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “He’s grown up a lot.”
Michigan State’s veterans have been on there other than games like this, especially its marquee non-conference losses early in the 2016-17 season. Those games taught them how to close out games like Thursday’s: keep pushing.
“Once they got down a little bit you could sense that we took advantage of it, kept pushing at them and you could see them do not give up but you could tell they did not have that experience to keep pushing, keep pushing at us, “Winston said.