Greg Kelser and Ron Charles remember Jud Heathcote and discussed the national championship of 1979 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the reunion on February 9, 2019.
Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
EAST LANSING – Tom Izzo demanded more from his best players this week after Michigan State lost basketball to Illinois.
Nick Ward received the message – with an assist from Magic Johnson – and replied loud and clear.
In just nine minutes, the ninth Spartans' 79-55 win over Minnesota netted the difference in Ward in a three-game defeat on Saturday.
Having fought hard to find a position for the first possession of the game, he re-established himself twice in the lower block to receive a second bucket with a hook shot.
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Unpack on the defensive glass to get the MSU out and run in the crossover, then caught an offensive board at the other end by a missed shot and calmly watch the field and Matt McQ uaid throw a 3-pointer out of the field. Just over a minute later, he shows a mid-sized jumper from the right corner, who had to call Gumpers coach Richard Pitino timeout.
The Spartans (19: 5, 10: 3, Big Ten) scored 11: 3 and crossed from there. They were more like the team that had won 13 consecutive games and started 9-0 in the Big Ten instead of the moribund player who had played basketball in Purdue for half an hour and two defeats in the past against Indiana and Illinois would have.
"That was a big focus," Ward said, running and playing Spartan basketball. Ward finished 22 of 9 out of 14 shots with 22 points and made 4 of his 7 free throws after losing everything to Indiana a week earlier. He also played defensively in the post and helped keep Minnesota's Jordan Murphy down to just five points and six rebounds.
More importantly, Wards were nine rebounds – almost the same of ten games he played during the first three games of MSU in the last had three games in two games and only eleventh in the 24 seasons of Tom Izzo.
"I give credit to Nick Ward," said Izzo, "I have to find out how it goes on, Earvin (Magic) told him so, so I'm sure it means a little more to come from him What's alright for me. "
Ward said after training on Thursday that he and Johnson already had" a conversation a lot, just about different things. "Ward also helped keep Minnesota manager Richard Pitino was not aggressive, because he occupied the 6-foot-9 junior junior strike with two teams.
"We tried to do it a few times and hit it," said Pitino. "(Ward) has also made some hard shots. He has an interesting release. He is a good player but they have other good players in the field.
These include watchman Cassius Winston, who had nine envelopes on Tuesday's 79-74 defeat on Tuesday in Illinois. On Saturday against the Gophers (16-8, 6-7) Winston went halfway halfway with two fouls and had only two points and one extra time, 7 seconds in 7 minutes.
After halftime Winston aggressively attacked the dribble basket and hired his teammates, including Ward once with a nimble behind-the-back rebound from a ride. Winston finished eleven points and nine assists and played for over 24 minutes, playing nine or more consecutive minutes.
The Spartans ended with a 20-7 lead in fast breakpoints and jumped off the Gophers, 38-33. The MSU limited Minnesota to just six second-chance points.
Magic Johnson on the 40th Annual Convention of the Michigan State 1979 on February 9, 2019 at the Breslin Center.
Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
"It felt good," said Izzo. "We have returned to what we do, defend, rebound and run. We did not do that in the previous games, and tonight I had the feeling that we did all three really well.
MSU also got a career game from McQuaid, whose 18 points were the highest in a Big Ten games and whose eight assists were a personal best. He took five rebounds and combined with Winston without sales.
After a few days of training after Tuesday's defeat, everyone came.
"I threw caution into the wind a few days ago and said," You know what? We'll just come after you, "said Izzo. "We'll make it, and if we get beaten because we're too tired, that would be a good reason to get beaten. We will not beat because we do not play hard enough.
"I think that was the hour of the day and we'll see where it leads us."
The Spartans travel to Wisconsin # 19 on Tuesday (7pm, ESPN2) for another important game against one the upper teams of the Big Ten.
But they come from a back-to-form game that they are proud of. They grabbed their lost series.
"In any case, the way we played," Winston said. "If we play like that, we will win many more games. It's only time to play Michigan State basketball, that was the bigger thing.
Contact Chris Solari at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari . Read more about Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.