Michigan State Spartans hold off Georgia at Maui Invitational men's basketball tourney

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, front center, knocks the ball away from Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman, left, during the second half Tuesday in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP photo)


AP Basketball Writer

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Cassius Winston sat in the Lahaina Civic Center locker room, the tears forming a puddle by his feet as his teammates warmed up on the court below.

It’s been less than three weeks since his brother’s death and Winston’s pain is still searing, his heart still heavy.

Once the ball was in his hands, Winston felt a sense of normalcy, found a rhythm that had been missing since tragedy struck.

Even then, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards nearly spoiled it.

Winston had 28 points and eight assists, and No. 3 Michigan State withstood Edwards’ second-half outburst to beat Georgia 93-85 at the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.

“Once I got out there, I was able to find my rhythm, find my peace out there on the court and that was really good for me, getting up and down, just having that rhythm that I usually play with,” he said. “I feel like this is the first time I kind of had it in a while.”

Michigan State (4-2) was sharp early after losing to Virginia Tech in its opener on Monday, building a 28-point lead early in the second half behind Winston’s steady play.

Once Edwards got rolling, the Spartans had no answer. Projected as a lottery pick, the 6-foot-5 freshman brought the Bulldogs (3-2) back almost entirely by himself, scoring 33 of his 37 points in the second half.

Edwards hit 7 of 13 3s — many contested — in the second half and threw a two-handed, overhead bounce pass to Rayshaun Hammonds for a layup to pull Georgia within 75-73.

But Michigan State had Winston.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo called Winston a “shell of himself” after a quiet game against Virginia Tech.

Brother Zachary Winston was hit by a train and killed Nov. 9.