Ward sets career-high, Spartans cruise against Green Bay

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Coming off a long break for final exams, Michigan State’s men’s basketball team was tested early but pulled away from a high-scoring mid-major.

Junior forward Nick Ward led the way from the start for the No. 9 Spartans, who rolled to a 104-83 victory against an overmatched Green Bay squad. His new career-high of 28 points led the way for the Spartans, who had six players score in double figures for the first time since a win over Cleveland State on New Year’s Eve of 2017.

The Phoenix (6-7 overall) lost their legs in their second game of the weekend, coming off a road loss at Creighton Friday night.

Green Bay started out hot, stunning the Breslin Center crowd with an early 24-20 lead. But that’s when the Spartans (9-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) went to their fast break to create separation. They scored 16 straight points from that moment, clamping down on defense and finding Ward down low.

The first half ended in a crazy sequence. Winston flipped in a running layup with under 5 seconds left. Then, Xavier Tillman stole Green Bay’s inbounds pass and hit his second career three from the corner. He sprinted into the locker room–followed closely by his teammates–with a 64-35 lead at the break.

Izzo also got a lot out of his freshmen in an easy win over the mid-major Phoenix. Foster Loyer and Gabe Brown set new career-highs with 10 and 11 points, respectively. MSU also played all five first-years on the floor for nearly two minutes late in the game.

One more game awaits the Spartans before Christmas. Oakland comes to the Breslin Center for an in-state matchup on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.