Michigan State’s Saturday scrimmage against Gonzaga was closed to the public and media. But after a viewing of the box score from the afternoon affair in Minneapolis, here’s a few notes from the proceedings:
* Michigan State lost both 20-minute halves, 58-46 and 52-46 (the score reset between the halves.) But the Spartans hung with the Bulldogs, ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP poll, for most of both sessions before faltering late. The Spartans trailed by two at the 2:53 mark of the first session following a pair of Xavier Tillman free throws before Gonzaga went on a 13-5 run in the final 2:39 to win the frame by 12. In the second, the Spartans trailed by one with 4:44 left before the Bulldogs once again went on a run.
* Nick Ward led the Spartans with 22 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 8-for-11 from the field. Cassius Winston added 16 points with eight assists and six turnovers. Xavier Tillman came off the bench to add 16 points, including going 10-for-14 from the free throw line. Joshua Langford added 11 points.
* Michigan State’s starting lineup was as expected: Winston, Langford, Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins and Ward. The only question mark to that lineup was at power forward, where Izzo said last week that Goins and Tillman were a “coin flip” for the starting job. Goins started both halves, but Tillman came off the bench to play more minutes: 23 compared to 17 for Goins.
* In terms of other players to see significant time: freshman Aaron Henry saw the most minutes off of the bench after Tillman, with 14 minutes (he had four points, a rebound, a block and a turnover). Kyle Ahrens was also high in the wing rotation with 11 minutes. Foster Loyer played nine minutes as backup point guard. (The teams also played two five-minute periods of primarily freshmen and reserves). Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier and Marcus Bingham played five minutes or fewer.
* Based on the play by play, the Spartans’ two point guards did not play together, and the team’s two centers played together for a nearly three-minute stretch in the second half but otherwise alternated time in the center spot.
* Turnovers were an issue. The Spartans had 19 of them. After Winston’s six, Langford had four and Tillman had three. Gonzaga recorded 25 points off of turnovers compared to 10 for the Spartans. As a team, the Spartans shot 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 71 percent from the free throw line.