MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With smooth moves, a sharp jump shot and an unavoidable 6-foot-11 presence on the floor, Jaren Jackson Jr. has given Michigan State another vast skillset as the lone freshman in an otherwise-all-sophomore starting lineup.
This performance was his best yet.
Jackson scored a career-high 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting in just 22 minutes for the second-ranked Spartans, who cruised to their ninth consecutive victory by beating Minnesota 87-57 on Tuesday.
“He certainly helped his draft status tonight,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said.
The Spartans (25-3, 13-2) notched their best 28-game record in program history and pulled within a half-game of first-place Ohio State in the Big Ten despite just five points in 25 minutes from Miles Bridges, who had five of his team’s 27 assists on 32 baskets.
“He’s just an unselfish superstar,” Jackson said. “That doesn’t happen much.”
The Spartans, who won their previous three games by three points each, had a 49-23 rebounding advantage. They padded their 18-point average victory margin, the third-highest in the country entering the night, with a dominant performance from start to finish.
Nick Ward had 13 points and nine rebounds and Cassius Winston pitched in 12 points for the Spartans, who made their first six 3-point attempts and finished 14 for 22 from behind the arc.
“I feel a little bit reluctant to give us too much credit because we played a team that was so depleted,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said.
Isaiah Washington scored 18 points and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Gophers (14-14, 3-12), who lost their eighth straight game. Jackson was just too much for them to handle,…