No. 6 Spartans mount comeback, hold off Terrapins on the road

It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon for Michigan State’s men’s basketball team.

Staring into a 13-point deficit at Maryland’s hostile Xfinity Center, the odds were stacked against the No. 6 Spartans after the first 20 minutes. But they rebounded mightily following the break, silencing the crowd, fighting back and controlling the second half to emerge victorious, 74-68.

The first half was forgettable in many ways for the Spartans (20-3 overall, 8-2 Big Ten). On one day’s rest following Friday night’s home win over Wisconsin, they shot only 27 percent from the field and made 1 of 10 three-pointers. On top of the poor shooting, foul trouble forced Cassius Winston to sit for all but five minutes in the half, taking the wind out of the Spartans’ sails on offense. The Terps (15-8 overall, 4-6 Big Ten), meanwhile, used a Jared Nickens three to push their halftime lead to 37-24. The 24-point half was the lowest for the Spartans all season.

But the second half saw a ferocious Spartan comeback, as the visitors started out the stanza with a 18-4 run to take their first lead of the game, 42-41. Powered by the return of Winston (13 points, all in the second half) and inspired all-around play by Jaren Jackson–who played much of the half with three fouls–the Spartans hit 13 of their first 19 shots of the half.

After tying the game at 48, the Terps couldn’t handle Michigan State’s talent and depth. The Spartans held the lead for the final 10:32 of the game and hit their late-game free throws to grab their third road victory in four tries this season, also avenging a last-second loss in College Park last season.

Josh Langford led the scoring for Michigan State, dropping 19 points on several athletic drives to the basket and his usual midrange jumpers. After tallying eight turnovers in the first half, the Spartans took much better care of the ball in the second, only giving the ball away twice.

The Spartans return home to the Breslin Center to host Penn State on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET. They will likely jump into the top 5 in Monday’s newly released national rankings after No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Kansas suffered losses this week.