No. 10 Michigan State meets High Point before Big Ten play begins

NCAA

Michigan State has one more piece of unfinished business before making a deep plunge into its Big Ten Conference schedule.

The No. 10 Spartans will host unheralded High Point in East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon.

Michigan State (10-2) has won 10 of its past 11 games, with the only stumble coming Nov. 26 against the nation’s current No. 1 team, Baylor.

The Spartans will be well rested for their final nonconference game. They have played only once since Dec. 11 — a 90-78 victory over in-state opponent Oakland on Dec. 21.

In typical fashion, the Spartans used a diverse offense to put away the Golden Grizzlies. Marcus Bingham had 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Max Christie also scored 17 points, Gabe Brown had 14, Malik Hall had 13 and Tyson Walker chipped in 10 points and a career-high 10 assists for Michigan State.

“It’s been a hell of a start for us,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “We’ve done a lot of good things, and we’ll be able to build on this.”

The Spartans have only two players averaging in double figures — Brown (13.3) and Bingham (10.8). Their balance has been a key to their success. Izzo has used a 10-man rotation, and no player is averaging 30 or more minutes per game.

Izzo said he believes the team could have a special season, even though preseason expectations were lower than normal for one of the nation’s premier programs.

“I still think we’ve got tremendous, tremendous upside,” Izzo said. “I think we can get better, I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface. Well, I shouldn’t say we haven’t scratched it, but there are a lot of things we can be better at, a little more consistent at some things. It’s going to be fun.”

With more than a week in between games, Izzo had the luxury of allowing his players to enjoy the holiday.

“When we come back on Sunday, I think everybody will be ready for practice,” Bingham said. “We’re just trying to have fun. That’s our main thing that we try to emphasize every game. And I feel we’re having a good time doing it.”

High Point (6-6) also played its most recent game on Dec. 21, a 55-52 victory over Florida Atlantic. The Panthers lost their previous two games, against South Carolina State and UNC Wilmington, by a combined three points.

Jaden House led High Point against Florida Atlantic with 14 points, including two clinching free throws.

“It was a great win for us, especially after the tough losses we have had,” High Point coach Tubby Smith said. “I am happy for Jaden; he played well (Tuesday). He finally got to the free-throw line at the times that we needed him to and made the free throws. It is a feel-good game for us going into the Christmas break, and hopefully we can build on this.”

Guard John-Michael Wright leads the Panthers with a 20.8 scoring average. Zack Austin (13.9) and House (11.3) also average in double figures.

High Point’s first loss of the season came against another Big Ten opponent, Northwestern, by a score of 95-60 on Nov. 12.

–Field Level Media

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