East Lansing — While it might not have had the buzz of the season-opener earlier in the week against top-ranked Kansas, the home opener for Michigan State on Sunday night provided a chance for the Spartans to start to build some early momentum.
It didn’t take long for No. 10 Michigan State to get rolling as an early 16-0 run sparked the offense on the way to an 106-82 victory over Florida Gulf Coast at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans (1-1) were coming off a five-point loss to No. 1 Kansas in the Champions Classic on Tuesday, and were looking for a more complete game against the Eagles from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Michigan State got it, shooting 50 percent in the first half and had four players score in double figures
Nick Ward led the Spartans with 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while Joshua Langford scored 18 and had 10 rebounds. Cassius Winston scored 14 points and had eight assists and Matt McQuaid scored 12.
BOX SCORE: No. 10 Michigan State 106, Florida Gulf Coast 82
Christian Carlyle and Troy Baxter Jr. each scored 20 for Florida Gulf Coast (1-2).
A sluggish start from Michigan State disappeared quickly when the Spartans went on a 16-0 run to turn a 10-6 deficit into a 22-10 lead. The surge ballooned to 21-3, and gave Michigan State a 27-13 lead with 12:16 left in the first half.
The lead continued to grow throughout the half as the Spartans scored the last seven points of the half, including a 3-pointer from freshman Marcus Bingham Jr. in the final minute to give Michigan State a 59-35 lead at the break.
Michigan State pushed the lead to 67-40 early in the second half on a put-back from Kenny Goins before Florida Gulf Coast started chipping away. The Eagles put together a 9-0 run to trim the Michigan State lead to 69-53 later in the half and eventually got to within 80-64 with just less than nine minutes to play.
But the Spartans extended the lead back to 22 a few minutes later on a drive and layup from Langford, and the Eagles never mustered another run from there.
Heres a few observations from MSUs victory:
1. In Michigan State’s opener against Kansas, Langford was just a bystander in the first half before coming to life in the second as the Spartans’ comeback bid fell just short. On Sunday night, Langford was full of energy from the opening jump. He was just 1-for-6 shooting from 3-point range, but in his nearly 17 minutes of action, Langford scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. It’s that sort of production Michigan State will need early in games as the schedule gets tougher in the coming weeks.
2. The victory over Florida Gulf Coast wasn’t the most important happening surrounding the basketball program this weekend. While the coaching staff can’t comment, it was an especially vital weekend for recruiting as 6-foot-10 Vernon Carey made his second official visit to East Lansing. He’s also made official visits to Duke, North Carolina, Miami and Kentucky. The native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has said he intends to announce his commitment by the end of November.
3. Things got a bit testy for an early season non-conference game early in the second half when Ward and Florida Gulf Coast big man Ricky Doyle came into contact with each other. It appeared as if Doyle caught Ward with an elbow, which Michigan State coach took exception to, pointing and yelling at Doyle. It earned Izzo a technical and after reviewing the play, officials did not assess a foul to Doyle. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s the same Ricky Doyle that played at Michigan.