Langford-led Michigan State beats Youngstown State 77-57
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Josh Langford was challenged by Tom Izzo to play better at both ends of the court, and the freshman responded well enough to satisfy his hard-to-please coach.
Langford had a season-high 15 points and improved his play defensively, helping Michigan State bounce back from a poor performance with a 77-57 win over Youngstown State on Tuesday night.
The Spartans (6-4) were coming off a four-point win over Oral Roberts in which Izzo lamented the play of Langford publicly and privately.
''I knew I hadn't done a good job for Michigan State, and my teammates,'' Langford said. ''This time, I didn't care about scoring.''
Langford has gotten off to a slow start this season, scoring in single digits in his first nine games, in part because of a hamstring injury that made it look like he was laboring to run fluidly with his ailing left leg. Izzo said Langford isn't in pain, but also is not in good condition because of how limited he has been physically this season.
''I'm trying to get him more shots, more playing time and get him in better shape,'' Izzo said.
The Penguins (5-5) were led by Matt Donlan, who scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half, and Francisco Santiago, who had eight of his 13 points after halftime. Youngstown State made just 33 percent of its shots.
''We just don't have that third guy,'' Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum said.
Both teams were without their leading scorers, both of whom are from Flint, Michigan.
Michigan State's Miles Bridges missed a second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Youngstown State's Cameron Morse sat out a third consecutive game with an injured right wrist.
The Spartans led by seven points at halftime before pulling away in the second half.
Youngstown State: The Penguins had enough energy to hang with Michigan State in the first half with one tie and one lead change, but they didn't have enough to keep it close without Morse. He is averaging 23.7 points.
''He's a special offensive player,'' Slocum said.
Michigan State: Izzo didn't like how any of his wings played in the previous game, and wasn't thrilled with any of them besides Langford even though senior Eron Harris and sophomore Matt McQuaid also scored in double figures. Harris had 13 points and McQuaid scored 11, but they were a combined 10 of 26 overall and 4 of 15 on 3-point shots and didn't play well enough at the other end for Izzo.
''When I got two freshmen playing better defense than a sophomore and a senior, that's not too settling for me,'' Izzo said.
IN THE PAINT
Nick Ward had 13 points and eight rebounds a game after the freshman forward scored a season-high 24 points and matched his best game on the boards with 10 rebounds. Ward played 20 minutes, coming in and out of the game more frequently than Izzo would like because he's not in good enough shape to play more consistently.
''Nick has got to be able to play more than 3, 4 minutes in a stretch,'' Izzo said.
BRING THE BUZZ
Without Miles, the Spartans are lacking a playmaker that fires up the team and the crowd.
''He makes a lot of electric dunks,'' McQuaid said. ''We have to find that energy he brings.''
PUT ME IN, COACH
Matt Van Dyk grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, more than doubling his previous high.
''I'm trying to figure out if that is good news or bad news,'' Izzo said. ''We put that kid in a tough situation.''
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound former walk-on was needed in the post because Ward was often too tired to play more and Kenny Goins fouled out in just 15 minutes.
Youngstown State: Plays at American on Saturday.
Michigan State: Hosts Tennessee Tech.
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