Michigan State headed to the Las Vegas Invitational intent on winning a championship.
After dismantling No. 17 UCLA 87-67 on Thursday night, the 11th-ranked Spartans will get the opportunity to claim a title when they face Texas on Friday in the final. The Longhorns upset No. 7 North Carolina 92-89 in the other semifinal.
The Bruins will oppose the Tar Heels on Friday in the consolation game.
Cassius Winston led the offensive attack for Michigan State (4-1), scoring 19 points while shooting 3-for-6 from 3-point range. He also handed out seven assists. Nick Ward scored 16 points. Joshua Langford added 14 points, Matt McQuaid scored 11, and Kenny Goins pulled down 13 rebounds.
Kris Wilkes scored 15 to lead UCLA (5-0) while Jaylen Hands and Chris Smith each scored 11. Cody Riley had 10 points for the Bruins, and Moses Brown grabbed 10 rebounds. All 10 players who saw the floor for the Bruins scored, but UCLA shot just 35.6 percent from the floor.
It didn’t take Michigan State long to get in an offensive rhythm. The Spartans used a 12-0 run that began less than five minutes into the game to turn a 9-7 lead into a 21-7 advantage. By the time there were just more than 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half, Michigan State’s run was 18-3, and the Spartans led 27-10.
The lead continued to expand as the first half moved toward its conclusion. With 1:49 to play, a running high-glasser from Winston put Michigan State up 51-22, the Spartans’ largest advantage.
Winston was the catalyst of Michigan State’s first-half onslaught, scoring 15 on 6-for-9 shooting while handing out six assists. Langford added 11 points while Ward was effective early and had eight points.
The Spartans were 10-for-17 from 3-point range in the first half while UCLA was just 1-for-11.
The second half was more of the same as Michigan State controlled the game until late in the half when the Spartans went to the bench and got some time for their freshmen. UCLA was able to trim the deficit to 15 in the final minutes but never seriously threatened.
Michigan State finished shooting 54.2 percent (13-for-24) from 3-point range. UCLA shot just 29.4 percent (5-for-17) from long distance.
The Spartans now have a chance to win an early-season tournament for the second season in a row after beating North Carolina last year to win the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore.
—Field Level Media