Cassius Winston, rebounding get Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team over hump vs. Northwestern, 77-72
By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
EVANSTON, Ill. — The turnovers were uncharacteristic for No. 15 Michigan State. The rebounding, well, that has been a staple for the Spartans for a very long time.
Cassius Winston scored 21 points and Xavier Tillman and Gabe Brown led a dominant effort on the glass, helping Michigan State hold off Northwestern for a 77-72 win on Wednesday night.
The Spartans (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) turned it over 16 times, just one shy of their season high set during Saturday’s 72-49 victory against Oakland. But Tillman and Brown each grabbed 10 boards, fueling a 48-24 rebounding advantage.
“Rebounding is important to us,” coach Tom Izzo said.
Winston went 8 for 16 from the field in the Spartans’ 11th consecutive victory against the Wildcats. He also moved into 12th on the school’s career scoring list with 1,601 points, passing Morris Peterson (1,588) and Raymar Morgan (1,597).
The senior guard bounced back nicely after he had just nine points on 3-for-13 shooting during the win against the Golden Grizzlies.
“Tonight we made some huge runs, we made some plays and then we let it slip away like that,” Winston said. “We can’t do that if we want to be a really, really good team.”
Northwestern (5-5, 0-2) pulled within four twice in the final minute. But Foster Loyer made four free throws to help Michigan State hold on.
“This is definitely going to be a journey,” said Tillman, who finished with 15 points. “The team we are right now will definitely not be the team we are going to be in March.”
Boo Buie scored a career-high 26 points for Northwestern.
Michigan State led by as many as 16 after Winston hit two foul shots to make it 47-31 with 14:56 left. But the Wildcats responded with a 13-2 run.