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Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team romps past Illinois, 76-56

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING — Michigan State played perhaps its best game of the season at least in part because Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman were clicking together on the court.

Winston had 21 points and Tillman scored 19, leading the 14th-ranked Spartans to a 76-56 win over Illinois on Thursday night.

Winston, who missed the previous game to rest a banged-up knee, controlled the tempo of the game and had six assists.

“Magic (Johnson) is the best point guard to ever play here and that young man is probably the next best,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said.

Tillman was pretty good, too, when

Michigan State resumed Big Ten play. He had seven rebounds, a career-high six assists and a season-high four blocks.

“Xavier’s all-around game was unbelievable,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

The Spartans (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) are on a six-game winning streak and have won their first three conference games to stay alone in first place.

Michigan State was in control from the outset but had just a six-point edge at halftime. The Spartans pulled away early in the second half with a 15-3 run.

“There were times in that game we played as good as we played all year,” Izzo said.

The Fighting Illini (9-4, 1-2) lost a lopsided game in the Big Ten for the first time this season. They had a one-point loss at then-No. 3 Maryland and beat then-No. 5 Michigan by nine points last month.

Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half and Alan Griffin finished with 17 points. Freshman center Kofi Cockburn, who entered the game averaging a team-high 16 points, had five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Gabe Brown scored 12 points and Aaron Henry added 10 points for the Spartans. Marcus Bingham didn’t score but led the defensive effort against Cockburn and had a career highs with 12 rebounds and five blocks.