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Michigan State hoops team routs Hillsdale in exhibition finale

Associated Press • Nov 4, 2017 at 1:22 AM

EAST LANSING — The practice games are done.

Michigan State now gets set to prepare for the real thing after dispatching Hillsdale Friday night, 75-44, in the final exhibition game of the season.

It was about what was expected — the No. 2 team in the nation simply outmanning the Division II team from the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Nick Ward scored 14 and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Spartans while Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 12 and grabbed 13 rebounds while going 2-for-3 from 3-point range. Cassius Winston added 11 points and six assists and Miles Bridges scored 10 on just 4-for-13 shooting.

The Spartans played well defensively, though some of that was helped by the poor shooting of the Chargers, who were just 5-for-28 in the first half and finished 13-for-56. Michigan State also dominated the glass, grabbing 56 rebounds to 34 for Hillsdale.

Michigan State now looks to the start of the regular season next Friday when it hosts North Florida. After that, it's the likely No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown against Duke Nov. 14 in the Champions Classic in Chicago.

The final tune-up on Friday was a slow start for both teams as Michigan State had committed nine team fouls just past midway through the first half, which was one more point than Hillsdale's points total at that point (20-8).

Michigan State eventually pushed the lead to 35-12 with 2:54 to play in the first half after a pair of free throws from Ward. But Hillsdale made its first two 3-poitners of the game and closed the half on an 8-2 run to cut the Michigan State lead to 37-20 at halftime.

Michigan State used the same starting lineup as it did on Sunday in the victory over Georgia, going with Winston, Joshua Langford, Bridges, Jackson and Ward.

Freshman Xavier Tillman was the first big man to come off the bench and played four minutes. Midway through the half, Gavin Schilling and Kenny Goins checked in for the first time as coach Tom Izzo continued to play with lineups and rotations.

With Kyle Ahrens out indefinitely after aggravating a foot injury he originally suffered in the summer, the Spartans used Winston and Tum Tum Nairn at the same time with Langford at the three and Bridges at the four. Later in the half, walk-on Connor George even saw some time at shooting guard.

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