Cassius Winston sets career high in points for Michigan State Spartans’ big men's basketball win over Michigan Wolverines, 87-69

Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman, right, and Michigan’s David DeJulius battle for the ball during the second half Sunday in East Lansing. (AP photo)


AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING — Cassius Winston made his last home game against Michigan memorable with a sensational performance his in-state rivals would rather forget.

Winston had a career-high 32 points and nine assists, leading No. 14 Michigan State to a 87-69 victory over the 12th-ranked Wolverines on Sunday.

“It was one of the greater performances that this building has seen,” said coach Tom Izzo, who has witnessed a slew of games at Breslin Center as a head coach and assistant over the last three decades. “I don’t think any of us will ever be able to appreciate what that kid has gone through and how he has handled it.”

Winston has had a heavy heart for nearly two months because his younger brother, Zachary, died after being hit by a train.

The senior star has played while grieving and that seemed to adversely affect some of his performances earlier in the season, but he was at his best in the first of two scheduled games against Michigan.

“Cassius is a superb, phenomenal player,” Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said. “He does an excellent job of reading whatever defense you throw at him. Give him credit. He’s crafty. There’s a reason why he was the player of the year in the Big Ten.”

Winston was 11 of 19 overall and 8 of 11 at the line. He had just two turnovers despite having the ball in his hands during much of his 38-minute outing.

Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman fell one point short of his career high with 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had a career-high six blocks.

The Spartans (12-3, 4-0 Big Ten) were ahead the entire game, leading by as many as 13 points in the first half.

The Wolverines (10-4, 1-2) have lost four of their last seven games after starting 7-0 and going from unranked to No. 4 under Howard in his first year.

The Wolverines were missing forward Isaiah Livers, who was out for a second straight game with a groin injury.

Brandon Johns replaced him in the starting lineup and matched a career high with 12 points.