Michigan State continues comeback from early-season troubles with big win over rival Michigan
The Spartans' victory vs. the Wolverines was their seventh in a row
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- No. 14 Michigan State came into its rivalry game with No. 12 Michigan on Sunday looking for its best win of the season. Mission accomplished. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 87-69, which is their fourth straight win in the series.
Cassius Winston led the way for the Spartans with a career-high 32 points as well as nine assists. Xavier Tillman also had a big afternoon with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Michigan struggled to shoot most of game, but Jon Teske was able to make a little noise when he wasn't in foul trouble. Teske netted 15 points before fouling out in the second half. Zavier Simpson struggled to find his form, but still ended up with 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
The Spartans move to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in Big Ten play and remain the only undefeated team in the conference. Michigan falls to 10-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten, two and a half games back early in league action.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Cassius Winston showed why he's the best point guard in college hoops: All of his skills were on display tonight. Whether it was getting to the rim for his own shot or finding his teammates for good shots of their own, Winston did it all tonight. He got his 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, but only two of those field goals were 3-pointers. Winston was the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and a first team All-American. He lived up to all those expectations tonight.
Michigan really missed Isaiah Livers: The junior guard is Michigan's second leading scorer at 13.6 points per game, but more importantly, he is the top three-point shooter on the team at 50%. He has been out since injuring his groin against Presbyterian on Dec. 21. The Wolverines were dreadful from long range today, shooting only 5 of 23. Simpson was 1 of 6, seemingly forcing them at times. You have to believe this is a much closer game if Livers could play.
MSU has rebounded from a rough start to the season: The Spartans were the preseason No. 1 team in the rankings, but losses to Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Duke have left them further down the rankings. I will not go so far as to say that Michigan State is a national title contender, but they are building momentum in the right direction. The Spartans have won seven in a row since the loss to Duke and sit atop the loaded Big Ten by themselves. It has not exactly been a gauntlet of strong opponents, but that streak should be eight next Sunday when they head to Mackey Arena to face Purdue, which has been pretty good in that building as always.
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