Mens Basketball: Michigan State 98, North Florida 66 - D1SportsNet

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Mens basketball

Michigan State 98, North Florida 66

EAST LANSING, MICH. -- There was no drama, no doubt and no sweat for No. 2 Michigan State in its season opener on Friday.

Now, there also is no question where the focus can be for the Spartans: Bring on Duke.

Sophomore forward Miles Bridges had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead five players in double-figures for Michigan State in a 98-66 rout of North Florida.

The game served as a tune-up for what will be the first big matchup of the Mens basketball season on Tuesday, when No. 1 Duke and Michigan State clash in Chicago at the Champions Classic.

"I'm happy about some of it and not very happy about other (parts)," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "But we are going to move on. We have a big game on Tuesday."

Those in attendance to catch their first glimpse of Michigan State in a regular-season game got an early look at the strides a decorated group of sophomores have made since last season, and why freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. might be a NBA lottery pick next summer.

A preseason All-American, Bridges led the way for the Spartans with a double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in a solid start to the season after an offseason full of hype and surprise that he bypassed the NBA Draft to return to Mens.

Sophomore center/forward Nick Ward scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half, Jackson had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, sophomore Joshua Langford scored 13 points and sophomore Cassius Winston had 12 points and eight assists to lead the attack for Michigan State.

The Ospreys (0-1) were led by sophomore guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa, who went 5 of 7 shooting from 3-point range and scored 19 points.

Sophomore Garrett Sams added 13 points for North Florida, which went 11 of 29 from 3-point range.

The Spartans shot 57.4 percent from the floor (35 of 61) and outrebounded North Florida, 49-26.

"There is always room for improvement," Bridges said. "In the first half, we played really well but in the second half, we kind of played down to the competition. They're a great team, but we have to continue to play."

Michigan State (1-0) broke it open after the game was tied at 13 with 16:04 remaining. The Spartans went on a 19-0 run over the next 7:48 to take a 32-13 lead with 8:16 left in the first half.

The Spartans ultimately built their lead to 52-26 at halftime.

In the second half, Michigan State built its lead to as many as 39 points.

North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll certainly was impressed by the Spartans.

"Their weakness to me can only be themselves -- the Kryptonite they have within themselves to be selfish instead of being selfless," Driscoll said. "To me, that's the only thing this team can do to implode. They are too talented in all facets and they do the two fundamental things greatest. They keep the ball in front of them and they rebound the ball."

Despite the lopsided victory, there was one sore spot on the stat sheet that Izzo can get on his team about.

The Spartans were sloppy with the ball, committing 21 turnovers.

"You have to play a complete game, and I don't think a couple of our guys played at both ends," Izzo said. "We will try and correct that."

North Florida got off to a decent start, making its first three shots of the game to take an 8-3 lead, but was simply overmatched the rest of the way.

"When we shared the sugar and we moved it from side to side and defensively when we were within our principles, we were very good," Driscoll said.

But obviously not as good as Michigan State, and now the early-season showdown between No. 1 and No. 2 is set.

Duke beat Michigan State in Durham during the regular season last year.

"I feel like we didn't play to our full potential last year," Bridges said. "This year, I think we are going to play to our full potential."

NOTES: Michigan State is 23-0 in home openers under head coach Tom Izzo and 101-18 all-time. ... North Florida is now 2-13 all-time against Big 10 opponents with wins over Purdue in 2014 and Illinois in 2015. ...After missing the entire 2016-17 seasons with injuries, Michigan State senior forwards Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling played in a regular-season game for the first time since 2015-16. ... North Florida was picked to finish in third place in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason poll. The Ospreys are coming off a season in which they went 15-19 overall and 8-6 in league play. ... Throughout the season, Michigan State will wear a patch honoring former head coach Jud Heathcote, who passed away on Aug. 28 at age 90. Heathcote was the head coach for the Magic Johnson-led 1979 national championship team and handpicked Izzo to take over the MSU program when he retired in 1995.



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