Michigan State's Bridges might return to face UConn
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Good news is expected for fourth-ranked Michigan State when its faces Connecticut on Friday evening in the second round of the Phil Knight 80 Invitational.
Spartans star Miles Bridges, who missed the past two games with a sprained left ankle, possibly could return.
"I am hoping that he plays at some point this weekend," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Thursday. "His ankle has definitely made some serious progress, but we'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Before injuring the ankle, Bridges was averaging a team-high 19.7 points and seven rebounds per games.
Even without Bridges, the Spartans (3-1) used a team effort to dispatch upstart DePaul 73-51 Thursday night in a first-round game.
Matt McQuaid scored a team-high 20 points and sank a career-high six 3-pointers for Michigan State.
"My teammates are always giving me confidence, and I got great screens and great passes that really helped," McQuaid said. "(The shots) were going in, and hopefully tomorrow I can keep it up."
Spartans big man Jaren Jackson Jr. was phenomenal with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Joshua Langford scored 10 points, and Cassius Winston contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
UConn enters the winners-bracket game after recording a 71-63 upset victory over Oregon on Thursday night. Terry Larrier (18 points and seven rebounds), Jalen Adams (16 points) and Alterique Gilbert (16 points) led the Connecticut offense.
The Huskies won the game with defense, limiting the hot-shooting Ducks to 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 20.8 percent beyond the arc. UConn's ability to put pressure on the ball limited in Oregon in its offensive sets, thus leading to no rhythm and 17 turnovers.
"It's just a good win. We just want to keep winning, keep doing it the right way, playing the right way," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "Those guys went through a lot last year, but they learned from it and we're just trying to play good solid basketball."
That style of play doesn't bode well for Michigan State, according to Izzo. He hopes Bridges can return to give the offense a boost, but he knows his guards are going to have to be strong with the ball to get the Spartans into their offense and execute.
"They'll be a tough foe for us just because of our guard situation for us," Izzo said of the matchup with the Huskies. "They play hard -- they're quicker than quick, and they get to the rim."
Michigan State enters the game as the higher-scoring team, averaging 90.7 points per game. The Huskies are more known for their defense, limiting opponents to just 62.7 points per game.
"We are going to try and do our pressure," Ollie said. "They got some great players, but we are going to try and keep it out of (Winston's) hands ... just play our solid defense."
The teams have a common opponent in Stony Brook. Michigan State defeated the Seawolves 93-71 on Nov. 19, five days after UConn narrowly defeated Stony Brook 72-64.
The winner of Friday game advances to the championship game of the "Victory" bracket on Sunday, where it will face either No. 9 North Carolina or Arkansas.
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