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The initial statement by Michigan state coach Tom Ezo after his team’s 68-45 win over Rutgers on Tuesday.

Detroit News

East Lansing – Beat Nebraska is nothing. The country’s 15th team hit something else.

No. 23 Michigan State, Exit Her first victory in the Big Ten over the weekend in Nebraska, Confirmed this victory by returning home Tuesday evening and defeating Rutgers, 68-45, at Priceline. And in the process, the Spartans may be in the process of knocking out the 0-3 team play startup that’s starting to create some second guesses about Michigan’s chances this season.

“I don’t know if that was the reason for Nebraska’s defeat because it would have put a weight on their shoulders,” said Michigan state coach Tom Ezo. “But tonight I thought we’d played basketball in Michigan. We defended, wore off, ran.

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“That was a complete team win, and it was needed. There was a real need to win the game the way Michigan does. We think we can clean up some of these things offensively, and if we keep our defense, who travels, then we have the opportunity to take some steps forward.” .

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 68, Rutgers 45

It is helpful to take these steps when the best player on the team proves to be the best.

It happened again on Tuesday as Aaron Henry scored 20 points on 8-to-13 shots while holding eight rebounds, blocking four shots and securing a pair of possession over the Spartans (8-3, 2-3 Big Ten). It was the second game in a row for Henry to reach the 20-point mark after his career high of 27 in Nebraska.

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More: ‘The best game of his life’: Aaron Henry leads the way in Michigan’s victory over Nebraska

“Aaron Henry is efficient and also playable, aside from transformations, where I can order the last two games,” Ezo said. “He started getting this thing as he stopped two feet at painting and taking shots. He did a great job with his work on all three, but it was very effective.”

Henry was attacking Michigan state early, scoring seven of the team’s first 11 points, and when he was still tight in the second half, the primary jump followed by a six-point corner pointer turned into 11-point pads, one never less than nine points. .

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Of course, the youngster was more focused on winning and getting the job done on both ends of the field.

“I look forward to stopping the momentum on either side of the field, bouncing back as well as turning my path and controlling things that I can control,” said Henry. “You can point to shooting and you can point to certain things, but as a player on the field from both ends, I try to be as good as possible with the players on the field with me. I try to hold everyone responsible and we just have to keep improving.”

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Henry received some help as Joshua Langford added 11 points with seven in the last five minutes to help push the game away. A Watts missile scored 11 goals, and Joy Hauser drew 14 rebounds for nine points.

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More: Undefeated UM rises to 10th in latest AP poll; Michigan State University drops to # 23

But the Spartans were also solid defensively, namely Thomas Keither and Malik Hall, who met to guard Ron Harper Jr., who entered the match with an average of 22.1 points. He was held in 13th position, leading Rutgers (7-3, 3-3) while Jacob Young scored 11 goals for the Vermilion Knights.

Rutgers got into the game in shooting with nearly 40% of their 3-point range but was only 3-to-12 on Tuesday and shot 30.5% overall (18 to 59) in one of Michigan’s best defensive matches in weeks.

“This was one of our best defensive displays in two years,” said Ezo. “And he was definitely the best of the year because he was up against a high-quality team that had size on the inside.”

It was apparent from the start that Henry was going to build his last outing as he scored seven of Michigan’s first seven points, including the Index 3 that put Spartans ahead, 11-4, and imposed an early Rutgers ultimatum.

From there, the transformations began to accumulate. Michigan State gave the ball away on three of its first four possessions, and after stabilizing for a moment, it lost the ball on four straight possessions while failing to score for nearly five minutes. However, Spartans never lost the lead as Rutgers was 0 to 8 of the 3-point range in the first half and was only 2 to 9 from the free throw line.

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The young Michigan state striker finished with 20 points in Tuesday’s 68-45 win over Rutgers

Detroit News

Michigan had the opportunity to push the lead to two numbers, ahead of 22-14, but two consecutive rounds resulted in easy Rutgers buckets. Another throw in the transition period pulled the Vermilion Knights into a 22-20 inside before Hall scored on his way to the hoop and buried Gabby Brown a triple-pointer in the transition to put Michigan ahead, 27-20.

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After a pair of Rutgers free throws and one from A.J. Hoggard, the Spartans headed to the end of the first half, 28-22.

The state of Michigan maintained its dominance early in the second half, and when Henry hit the two consecutive jumpers – and the second by three points – the Spartans nudged their lead to 41-30 with 12:52 to play in the game. Michigan’s lead grew to 15 on six straight points from Watts and after an increase from Scarlett Knights, Hauser hit a much-needed treble benchmark with 8:45 to play to give Michigan a 51-36 lead.

Rutgers scored four goals in a row to reduce Michigan’s state lead to 11, but the Spartans scored the next 10 points, taking five in a row from Joshua Langford to start the race and capping a three-point play from Hole, giving Michigan a 61-40 lead and effectively putting the match away. .

Michigan is now preparing to host Purdue on Friday with a chance to return to the .500 at the Big Ten.

“It was good to have one tonight at home the way we did,” said Henry. “I felt like we defended and got back to some of the ways our standards here in Michigan are in terms of defense.

“But we still have a long way to go. We are not satisfied, we are dissatisfied. Rutgers are a great team, and to be able to play defense like this, I feel it requires a certain level of awareness … It means a lot to our team, but we cannot.” To feel absolutely good. “

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Twitter: mattcharboneau