By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges attracts a lot of attention on offense, drawing eyes as one of the top players in college basketball.
He’s only one of many Michigan State players defenses have to try to stop.
Bridges had 17 points and nine rebounds as part of a balanced offense that gave the second-ranked Spartans a 102-60 victory over Long Beach State on Thursday night.
“Everybody is starting to get comfortable in their roles,” said Joshua Langford, who also had 17 points. “This team is getting in a great rhythm.”
Michigan State’s Nick Ward scored 16, Cassius Winston had 13 points and eight assists and Jaren Jackson added 13 points.
“You have to pick your poison,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “You have to hope they have a bad shooting night. That’s why we zoned so much. It’s just so hard to match up man for man. That balance is impressive and you couple that with sharing the basketball.”
Michigan State (12-1) has won 11 straight with all the victories by double digits and many by 20-plus points.
“I need to keep hammering on the mistakes we’re making,” coach Tom Izzo said.
The 49ers (5-9) trailed by just five points midway through the first half before Michigan State pulled away. The Spartans led by 16 points at halftime and dominated at both ends of the court to quickly turn the game into another rout.
“They pretty much carved us up,” Monson said.
Long Beach State’s only double-digit scorer was Gabe Levin, who had 14 points.
Long Beach State: With wins over Stanford and Oregon State, the 49ers should feel good about their season so far. They can’t be happy, though, to have almost twice as many losses as victories.
Michigan State: The Spartans’ starters are all averaging in double figures, creating matchup problems for defense inside and out.
“They’re as good as they’ve been,” said Monson, who previously faced the Spartans when he coached at Minnesota and Gonzaga.
Ward was 7 of 8, coming off a 9-for-9 shooting performance, and might have went two straight games without a miss if Bridges didn’t pass him the ball for a tough shot in the closing seconds of the first half. He has made 68.6 percent of his shots this season. Michigan State’s season shooting record was set by Ron Charles during 1979-80 when he made 67.6 percent of his shots.
“I didn’t know that stat existed,” Ward said.
ON THE MEND
The 49ers were without Bryan Alberts, their second-leading scorer. The Gonzaga transfer averaged 21 points in his previous three games before knee swelling led to surgery on Thursday.
“We’re optimistic we can get him back in next 10 days or so,” Monson said.
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
Michigan State’s weakness may be unforced turnovers. The Spartans gave up the ball 12 times against Long Beach State.
“That’s more of a mental thing,” Langford said.
Long Beach State: Plays at Colorado State on Saturday night.
Michigan State: Gets to rest for more than a week before hosting Cleveland State on Dec. 29.
“It’s really good that we get a break,” Izzo said. “We need it mentally and physically, coaches even need one.”
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