EditorsNote: Added Winston’s last name in lede graf; Changed 14 to 11 3-pt attempts in 2nd graf
After missing the first game of his career last weekend, Michigan State senior guard Cassius Winston responded, scoring 21 points and handing out six assists to lead the 14th-ranked Spartans to a 76-56 victory over visiting Illinois on Thursday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
Winston scored nine of the first 13 points for Michigan State (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) while Illinois missed all 11 of its 3-point attempts in the first half before finishing 3 of 28 (10.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
Junior Xavier Tillman added 19 points and seven rebounds for Michigan State while sophomore Gabe Brown chipped in 12 points. Spartans sophomore Aaron Henry had 10 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Marcus Bingham grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds.
Sophomore Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 to lead Illinois (9-5, 1-2) while sophomore Alan Griffin added 17 points. Freshman Kofi Cockburn was limited to five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
Michigan State relied on a fast-paced attack to push its advantage to double digits, leading 31-20 before Winston went out with his second foul with just less than five minutes left in the half.
Illinois took advantage, even with Cockburn on the bench with two fouls, and pulled within 35-30 in the final seconds. Michigan State closed the half 1-for-9 from the field while making just one of its final eight free throws to take a 36-30 halftime lead.
Brown was the catalyst in the second half for the Spartans, scoring the first seven points of the half before Michigan State went on an 8-0 run to take control. By midway through the half, the Spartans had pushed the lead to 23 as Illinois continued to misfire.
The Fighting Illini pulled within 18 with just more than four minutes left in the game, but they got no closer as Michigan State remained unbeaten in the Big Ten.
—Field Level Media