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Bridges-led MSU cruises past Miss. Valley State

Associated Press • Nov 18, 2016 at 10:36 PM

EAST LANSING — Miles Bridges missed a free throw, got to the loose ball, dribbled through the lane and leaped to make a backboard-shaking dunk that got Magic Johnson out of his seat.

Bridges scored 21 of his 24 points in the first half, grabbed 11 rebounds and had six assists in his home debut for No. 13 Michigan State in an 100-53 win over Mississippi Valley State on Friday night.

"That first-half performance was as good as any as I've seen here in a long time," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said.

Bridges , a 6-foot-7 freshman, put on quite a show that the fans loved at the Breslin Center, including a former Michigan State great and Hall of Famer. He made an array of shots, including a jump hook and two 3-pointers.

Johnson popped out of his seat in a suite and spread his arms wide while showing an ear-to-ear smile when the left-handed freshman soared and slammed with his off hand.

"That was amazing," Johnson said in a halftime interview with The Associated Press. "He is a guy, not only will he thrill Michigan State fans and basketball fans around the country, but the next level, he'll be a great player."

Bridges was awed by meeting Johnson for the first time and getting praise from him during a brief postgame chat.

"For him to be that excited about the way I played, for a legend to say that, that means a lot," he said.

Bridges helped the Spartans (1-2) get a confidence-boosting win after getting routed by No. 2 Kentucky and losing to No. 10 Arizona by two points, but Izzo kept the rout in perspective.

"We took a step in the first direction," Izzo said. "We did not conquer Rome or anything."

Nick Ward, one of Michigan State's four highly touted freshmen, had 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting and eight rebounds.

Reserve Ronald Strother had 12 points and Amos Given scored 10 for the Delta Devils (0-4) who could not slow down Bridges until he decided to set up teammates for more shots in the second half.

"He actually played about three years older than what he actually is because he smelled that fear and went into attack mode," MVSU coach Andre Payne said.

BIG PICTURE

MVSU: The overmatched Delta Devils can learn from and build off of the solid start they had against the Spartans, who were leading just 16-14 midway through the first half.

"With about 7 minutes to go in the first half, they decided to do it their way instead of following the game plan," Payne said. "On the road against a high-major team like Michigan State, they make you play."

The Spartans closed the first half with 32-9 run and scored 84 points in the last 9:20 of the game.

Michigan State: Eron Harris and Matt McQuaid have to play like they did against MVSU for the Spartans to have a lot of success this season because they can't rely on just freshmen. Harris had 19 points and McQuaid scored 15. Both were 5 of 8 on 3-pointers.

"Eron and Quaido (McQuaid) were in a slump," Bridges said. "My job was to get them going. That's where this game could be important."

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Spartans might make voters pause before dropping them down too much following a 19-point loss and a 47-point win with one game left before the next poll.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Michigan State freshman Joshua Langford was limited to three points in 12 minutes, playing through hamstring ailment in his left leg.

"Josh is dragging that leg," Izzo said. "That's a problem right now."

UP NEXT

MVSU: The Delta Devils play Massachusetts-Lowell on Tuesday in Virginia.

Michigan State: The Spartans host Florida Gulf Coast, which won 21 games last season and played in the NCAA tournament, on Sunday night before going to the Bahamas, where they will open with St. John's and may face No. 12 Louisville.

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