Michigan State Spartans regain tie atop Big 10 men's basketball standings by beating Wisconsin Badgers, 67-59
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo called it grit. Perhaps no Spartan embodied that more Tuesday night than his point guard.
Cassius Winston scored 23 points to help No. 11 Michigan State beat 20th-ranked Wisconsin 67-59 on Tuesday.
In doing so, the Michigan State (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten) star outdueled Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Izzo said it wasn’t just Winston’s effort on the offensive end that was key, saying his guard’s ability to lock down shooters on the outside ensure the Spartans didn’t have to stretch their defense, which would have helped open up the inside.
That perimeter defense also helped limit starting Wisconsin guards D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison to 11 points on 4 of 18 shooting.
“The ball is in his hands, I trust it,” Izzo said of Winston. “He made a couple of big, big plays tonight, that’s for sure.”
At times, the game seemed like a contest between the two heavyweights as Winston regularly answered Happ hook shots with a floater or 3-pointer.
But Wisconsin (17-7, 9-4) staggered down the stretch, going more than five minutes without a point as the Spartans put the game away.
“The whole night, we were throwing punches back and forth,” Happ said. “We felt we were in position to win the whole time.”
The game was still in doubt with 32 seconds to go before Kenny Goins hit a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a 62-56 lead. Wisconsin was then forced to foul, and Davison finally broke the Badgers’ scoreless streak making a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Goins and Nick Ward each added 12 points for the Spartans, while Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers was the only other player in double figures for scoring at 11.