Michigan State was without its best player on Sunday night, but the Spartans didn’t need Cassius Winston to close out nonconference play in proper fashion.
With Winston out after suffering a bone bruise to his left knee in practice on Friday, No. 14 Michigan State used a 25-0 run in the first half to grab the momentum before cruising to a 95-62 victory over Western Michigan at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
Winston was a game-time decision but it was clear midway through the first half he wouldn’t be needed. It was the first missed game of the senior’s career and ended a string of 56 straight starts. Sophomore Foster Loyer got his first career start and made the most of it, scoring 16 points and handing out six assists, both career highs.
Junior Xavier Tillman scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Spartans (10-3) while sophomore Aaron Henry scored 15 and fifth-year senior Kyle Ahrens chipped in season-high 12 points.
Freshman B. Artis White scored 12 for Western Michigan (7-6) while junior Michael Flowers added 12 points for the Broncos, who hadn’t played Michigan State since 1998.
After a slow start for the Spartans, the game-changing run came as Gabe Brown dunked in transition followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Ahrens and Tillman. Rocket Watts scored five points during the surge while Malik Hall nailed a couple of free throws to cap the 25-point outburst that ended when Brandon Johnson hit a baseline jumper for Western Michigan, making it 33-16 in favor of the Spartans with 6:14 left in the half.
The Broncos missed 13 straight shots during the Spartans’ run and did not score for 8:21. By the time the half ended, Michigan State had outscored Western Michigan 40-10 over the final 14:33 to take a 48-24 lead into the locker room.
Michigan State continued to roll in the second half as Loyer started to find his shooting touch, nailing three straight 3-pointers at one point as the Spartans extended their lead to 80-37 with 7:51 to play as Western Michigan never managed to put a dent in the MSU lead.
—Field Level Media