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Michigan State survives Rutgers, 62-52

Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Basketball

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Michigan State found itself in a dogfight in its first true road game of the season.

Not just early. Not just at halftime or the start of the second half. And not just with Rutgers on Tuesday night.

With each other.

Cassius Winston, who did not start the second half, responded with a pair of critical 3-pointers in the final four minutes as the third-ranked Spartans survived a scare against the Scarlet Knights to win, 62-52.

MSU (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) struggled offensively all night, shooting just 38.6 percent. Miles Bridges scored 21 points but made just 7 of 17 shots, and Joshua Langford was 6 of 20 shooting for 15 points. Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. had a career-high eight blocks to tie the MSU school record and scored all 11 of his points in the second half to help the Spartans slowly pull away.

The Spartans, who were 2-7 on the road last season, looked sluggish early.

 

Rutgers (6-3, 0-2) paralyzed MSU from the outset, scoring the game's first eight points and building a 12-5 cushion less than 7 minutes into the game.

The Spartans missed their first four shots and had four turnovers in the opening 8:45. But Bridges scored eight of his 13 first-half points during a 16-4 run to put MSU back on top, 21-11 His back-to-back 3-pointers forced Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell to call a timeout with 7:11 left in the half.

That woke up the Scarlet Knights, who ripped off an 11-2 stretch of their own to briefly reclaim the lead before Joshua Langford was fouled on a layup and made a free throw. The two teams went to the half deadlocked at 26.

MSU held Rutgers to just 29.4 percent shooting in the period, but the Spartans also committed nine turnovers that led to eight Scarlet Knight points. They also got outrebounded 22-21 in the half and outscored 8-1 in second-chance points, thanks to Rutgers yanking nine offensive boards.

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