Michigan State men's basketball finishes sweep of Minnesota Gophers with 70-52 win
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — Michigan State weathered another sluggish start, then wore down Minnesota.
The Spartans reasserted themselves after a rough loss, and the Gophers paid the price.
Cassius Winston had 18 points and eight assists and Xavier Tillman added 17 points and 10 rebounds, as 11th-ranked Michigan State cruised to a second victory over Minnesota in three weeks, 70-52 on Sunday.
“We did a good job this game of just stepping on the gas and making them shoot tough shots,” Tillman said, “and making sure we got those defensive rebounds.”
After falling 67-63 at Indiana three days ago, the Spartans (15-5, 7-2) stayed on the road for focus and bonding and kept pace with Illinois to stay in a first-place tie in the Big Ten.
The Spartans held the Gophers (11-9, 5-5) to season lows in field goal (28.1%) and 3-point (17.9%) shooting and cut their turnover total from eight in the first half to just three in the second half.
“They just keep coming at you. They’ve been that way for a long time,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said.
Minnesota’s three starting guards, Marcus Carr, Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis, were a combined 7 for 32 from the floor. Daniel Oturu led the Gophers with 19 points, Kalscheur chipped in 15 points and Carr finished with 11 points, but the Gophers took their first home loss in Big Ten play after winning their first four.
“I felt for Richard, because I’ve been there,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
With 12 of the 14 teams in the top 50 entering this week in the NCAA’s NET rankings that help determine the NCAA Tournament field, the Big Ten is as strong as ever. Home teams were 41-7 in conference play at the beginning of the week, but the Spartans gave the visitors a seventh victory in seven days.