EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges may be one of the most unselfish stars in basketball.
Tom Izzo needs him to alter, hoping he’ll opt to be more competitive with the ball.
Bridges finished his scoreless start with 7:43 left in regulation and finished with only 11 points to hardly help No. 4 Michigan State bounce back from a reduction with a 76-72 overtime victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night.
“He has to be greedy,” Izzo said.
The Spartans (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) were coming off a lopsided loss at Ohio State and the setback appeared to have lingering consequences for the group and their sophomore star.
“We simply could not get anything going,” Bridges said. “They made it tough for us.”
Bridges missed his first five shots and one of two free throws with 8 seconds left to give the lead to Michigan State. The preseason All-America player started overtime with a 3-pointer, but ended up with as many turnovers (3) as made shots on 10 attempts and appeared to be defeated throughout the game.
“We tried to do a fantastic job of limiting his traces,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “But he’s a real good player and they have a lot of weapons.”
The Scarlet Knights (11-7, 1-4) took a one-point lead on Corey Sanders’ step-back jumper with 1 minute left and Bridges stepped out of bounds to the resulting possession, giving them the ball back with 41.3 minutes left. Sanders missed a long jumper.
Bridges was fouled with 8 minutes left, but created the second free throw to tie the game.
Near the top of the key, Sanders missed a shot with a chance to win using a second left in regulation. Sanders made a floater with 1:21 left in overtime, falling to the courtroom using a cramp in his left calf. Cassius Winston sealed the win with two free throws to put the Spartans ahead , although he returned to earn a layup to pull at Rutgers in two with 9 seconds left.
Sanders scored 22 points and Deshawn Freeman had 15 for the Scarlet Knights, who had four players.
“We try to prove every night we are capable of enjoying the group we are up against and I think tonight we demonstrated that,” Sanders explained. “It was not the result we wanted, but we played tough.”
The Nick Ward of Michigan State had 17 points, Jaren Jackson scored 16 while Joshua and Winston Langford scored 12 points.
“They pose a lot of issues,” Pikiell said. “You can not just hone in one of them.”
Rutgers: The Knights, coming off a win over Wisconsin, are showing they could compete in the second season of Pikiell. They play tough defense and rebound, a formula for success Izzo has used for 23 seasons at Michigan State.
“They play tough,” Izzo said. “They play hard. They perform physical with a chip on their shoulder.”
Rutgers announced it signed Pikiell into an expansion to keep him under contract through the 2023-24 season.
“From Day 1, I loved the folks at the college,” he said. “We’ve got a great deal of tremendous things happening.”
Michigan State: The Spartans have seemed to eliminate the swagger they got with a 16-game winning streak that ended with an 80-64 loss to the Buckeyes. They are prone to foul on protection and look out of sync on offense.
“Maybe everybody got a bit fat and sassy,” Izzo said.
Rutgers: Plays Ohio State at home on Sunday.
Michigan State: Hosts Michigan in the rivals’ scheduled matchup on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
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