Sloppy Michigan State basketball starts slow, crushes Savannah State

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Dec 31, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State forward Nick Ward calls for the ball against Savannah State during the first half at Breslin Center.  Mike Carter, USA TODAY Sports Dec 31, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State gets fired up before the game against Savannah State at Breslin Center.  Mike Carter, USA TODAY Sports Michigan State‘s Miles Bridges pulls down a rebound against Savannah State during the first half Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in East Lansing.  Al Goldis, AP Michigan State‘s Jaren Jackson Jr. warms up prior to the game against Savannah State at Breslin Center on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in East Lansing.  Rey Del Rio, Getty Images Dec 31, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State‘s Miles Bridges gestures from the bench during the first half against Savannah State at Breslin Center.  Mike Carter, USA TODAY Sports Michigan State‘s Miles Bridges handles the ball defended by Savannah State‘s Dexter McClanahan at Breslin Center on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in East Lansing.  Rey Del Rio, Getty Images Michigan State‘s Nick Ward maneuvers against Savannah State‘s Javaris Jenkins, left, and John Grant during the first half Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in East Lansing.  Al Goldis, AP Michigan State‘s Nick Ward dunks against Savannah State‘s Javaris Jenkins during the first half Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in East Lansing.  Al Goldis, AP

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Michigan State‘s Nick Ward dunks against Savannah State‘s Javaris Jenkins during the first half Sunday.(Photo: Al Goldis, AP)

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EAST LANSING — It was sloppy and exposed many of Michigan State’s biggest weaknesses, but the Spartans put a close to 2017 with another big victory.

And now it’s time to resume Big Ten play.

No. 2 MSU overcame early turnover problems and Savannah State’s 3-point shooting prowess to finish its nonconference schedule with a 108-52 victory Sunday afternoon at Breslin Center.

♦ 

The Spartans (14-1) scored more than 100 points for the fourth straight game, the first time they have done that in school history.

MSU had six players score in double-digits and set a few other career marks.

Miles Bridges scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds, the most by a Spartan since Greg Kelser‘s 27 on Jan. 3, 1976 against Wisconsin. His 19 defensive rebounds broke the school record set by fellow Flintstone Antonio Smith against Indiana on March 8, 1997.

Fellow sophomore Nick Ward scored a game-high 21 points on 9 of 9 shooting and has made 32 of 34 shots in the last four games. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

And point guard Cassius Winston finished with 16 points and a career-high 13 assists.

Matt McQuaid added 14 points, Joshua Langford 11 and Jaren Jackson Jr. 10 points.

Early issues

Tom Izzo warned his team about two things Savannah State (3-12) has done a lot of this season — shooting 3-pointers and creating turnovers. The Tigers entered Sunday leading Division I with 563 3-point attempts and eighth in the nation at 18.6 turnovers forced per game.

Both of those things plagued the Spartans early, as they have all season.

MSU scored the game’s first seven points before Savannah State overcame an 0-for-7 start behind the arc to get hot outside. The Tigers drained seven of their eight 3-pointers in a 4 1/2-minute stretch, taking the lead near the midpoint of the half.

Meantime, the Spartans coughed up the ball at an alarming rate against the quicker, smaller opponents. Savannah State’s 2-2-1 press and ability to anticipate the first pass — as well as MSU’s at-times self-created giveaways — forced 11 turnovers in the first 8-plus minutes of the game.

Pulling away

That’s when the Spartans began to right things. Both on defense and offense.

MSU held Savannah State without a 3-pointer for the final 6:22 of the first half and first 2:03 of the second half. The Spartans also held the Tigers without a field goal for nearly 6 1/2 minutes between the end of the first half and start of the second.

And MSU also committed just one turnover after its first 11 in the half. That helped the offense find its rhythm, as the Spartans pulled away with a 14-2 run to close the half and then scored the first five points of the second period.

It became ugly after that. MSU held the Tigers scoreless over the final 8:58 of the game and closed the game with a 32-0 run.

What’s next

MSU, which is 2-0 in Big Ten play, resumes conference action Thursday when it hosts Maryland (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1). The Terrapins (12-3, 1-1) have lost forwards Justin Jackson (shoulder) and Ivan Bender (knee) for the rest of the season.

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Chris Solari: csolari. Follow him on Twitter .

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