EAST LANSING – State of Michigan basketball need a strong moment of his best players. He turned to Cassius Winston.
Bad knees and everything, the junior leader took over in the second half Saturday against Michigan.
A 3-pointer banked by Winston gave the 9th MSU its first lead of the game with just over 10 minutes to play.
Then he drove right, layup.
Then he drove left, layup. And even.
Michigan striker Ignas Brazdeikis defends Cassius Winston, the Michigan State Guard, in the first half, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
A performance that should win the Big Ten Player of the Year award. And the one who offered his team a second consecutive title in the regular season.
Winston scored 16 of 23 points as the Spartans escaped with a 20-2 run to beat No. 7 Michigan for the second time in two weeks. a 75-63 win on Saturday night at the Breslin Center.
MSU (25-6, 16-4) shares the Big Ten title with the number 11 Purdue, who defeated Northwestern earlier in the afternoon to claim his share. However, the Spartans get first place in next week's Big Ten tournament in Chicago with the tiebreakers on the Boilermakers, and the Wolverines (26-5, 15-5) will be seeded No. 3.
MSU plays at 12:30 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament, U-M won the game late that night at United Center, around 21:30.
The sophomore Xavier Tillman finished with 17 points, five blocks and six rebounds for Michigan State, and senior Kenny Goins had nine points and 16 rebounds in his last match in Breslin. Rookie Aaron Henry added nine points and eight rebounds. Senior Matt McQuaid took a dip in the final two minutes and finished with nine of his points in the Spartans 46-28 eruption in the second half.
Ignas Brazdeikis scored 20 points for Michigan, but the rookie failed with 5:10 to play. Jordan Poole added 15 points, but Zavier Simpson scored just six points on three of 13 shots.
It was Winston, the Big Ten individual best-selling favorite, who wanted MSU to win and once again dominated his second straight game with Simpson.
The Spartans held the scoreless Michigan for more than 4 minutes in the second half, while Winston scored nine points in the big heat and Tillman scored six of his nine seconds of the second period during this push, which began with an inverted lay-up of a troubled Kyle Ahrens.
The Wolverines finished 10 of 32 (31.3%) in the second half, after gaining 50% in the first half. MSU overtook the Wolverines 46-20 for the match and 26-12 after halftime.
Winston had 7 assists and 4 rebounds despite seven of MSU's 13 turnovers, including nine in the first half.
Michigan went out and bombarded the Spartans from the start, forcing turnovers on the first two MSU possessions of the game and turning them into five points. The Spartans spat the ball nine times in the first 20 minutes, leading to 12 U-M points.
Brazdeikis did at MSU what Goins had done to the Wolverines in the first half of his 77-70 victory at the Crisler Center on Feb. 24. The 6-foot-7 rookie broke through the perimeter defense of the Spartans from outside, burying two pointers. Brazdeikis created the rebound, including a dunk on the break. Each time, he strengthened his bench and his teammates with arms moving while running in the field.
Tillman proved to be the best counter-pitcher of MSU, scoring eight points with four rebounds and four blocks in the first half. The Spartans controlled the glass, 20-8.
After Winston made his second foul, Michigan earned 12 points on a Simpson floating lay-up on Foster Rent. However, MSU responded with six consecutive points to end the half, but missed two chances in the final seconds.
The Wolverines reduced their lead by 35-29 in half, getting 50% in half, 12 points for Brazdeikis and 10 for Poole. Winston only had seven points and three assists at the break.
Michigan attempted to annoy Winston over the last two minutes and the ball guard posted a dribble to avoid Wolverine's turn, mid-field in the driveway and back under the wing. .
Eventually, it seemed that they had contained it, with three converging defenders.
Winston passed a precise pass to a McQuaid cutting for the exclamation point.
Big Ten again.
Contact Chris Solari at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Learn more about the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.