STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Swing Update) – Tom Izzo was not impressed by the double-digit Michigan State sixth-place finish at Penn State.
The Spartans built a big lead early and dominated at times during their 71-56 victory Sunday. From Izzo's point of view, that's all they did well and it will not be enough for the Spartans to be the team they want to be.
"Maybe we're all talking too much about our quality," Izzo said. "We are not that good."
Playing without guards Joshua Langford and Kyle Ahrens, the Michigan state offensive suffered from inconsistencies while preparing the necessary sleeves to keep the game out of reach.
Nick Ward had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Matt McQuaid added 15 points and Cassius Winston scored 11 points for the Spartans (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten), who won 10 straight wins. They also beat the Nittany Lions (7-10, 0-6) for the 10th time in a row.
Michigan State returned the ball more than 17 times and shot 49% of the field.
"They missed shots that I think they could have done," Izzo said. "The turnovers were a joke."
Kenny Goins added 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who followed only 10 seconds and led up to 21 with a time of 6:44 to play.
The Spartans took control a little more than five minutes into the first half with unbroken possession.
Fueled by a pair of offensive rebounds from Goins and Xavier Tillman, the Spartans controlled the ball for nearly 40 seconds and took the advantage forever when Winston spotted a rebound in traffic to Goins, who finished with a right-handed dunk. The Goins traffic jam triggered a 28-14 run for the Spartans, who led 40-24 at halftime.
Lamar Stevens led Penn State (7-10, 0-6) with 20 points. Myles Dread, Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins all scored 11 points.
"We have not reunited yet," said Patrick Chambers, Penn State coach. "We still have 14 (games) to play and we can return this ship immediately."
Izzo sent sharp criticisms to Winston.
"I hate to say it, and I congratulate him for the entire season, but I told Cass that it was one of the worst games I've seen him play," he said. Izzo said.
Winston, who averaged 18 points per game, led the team with seven turnovers. His 11 points was his lowest production since Florida held it at 10 on December 8th.
Izzo said he did not know when Langford and Ahrens, who missed his first game this season due to a back injury, would be back to help reduce Winston's burden in the backyard.
"He really deserves a pass," Izzo said. "But he can not have much if we want to be a very good team."
DOMINATION ON GLASS
Ward and Goins combined their efforts to recover more than half of the Spartans' rebounds. Overall, Michigan State edged Penn State 41 to 21 but scored only two points higher than the 22 points.
"We did a better job protecting them from the glass in the second half," Chambers said.
Nothing to dream
Dread is injured at the ankle in 8:11.
The rookie 's guard got tangled when Ward pursued a loose ball, fell and seemed to twist his left leg while slipping to a stop. He writhed in pain and had to be helped in the locker room. He was able, however, to return a few minutes later.
Dread went into the afternoon with an average of 8.4 points per game and his 28.3 minutes per game was the team's fourth.
Michigan State: The Spartans are coming out very well without Langford, who missed his fourth straight game as a result of an ankle injury. In its place, a handful of Spartans provided scoring depth, including Ahrens, Aaron Henry and McQuaid.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions desperately need some positivity. Their 0-6 start in the Big Ten is their worst since the 2014-15 season, when they finished 4-14 in conference.
State of Michigan: Visit Nebraska Thursday.
Penn State: Welcomes Iowa Wednesday.