MSU notes: Winston's big game leads Spartans past Purdue
Purdue had one objective for game planning against Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston.
Wear him out. Grind him down.
However you want to say it, it was a relatively new look for the Spartans' (14-2, 5-0 conference) leading scorer. However, the end result favored the 6-foot-1-inch junior as he ended with a game-high 23 points in No. 6 MSU's 77-59 win against the Boilermakers at the Breslin Center.
"I was definitely tired out there, for sure," Winston said. "A lot of it is mental. I mean, I’m tired but my team can’t afford for me to be tired so I’m gonna suck it up and play."
Winston finished shooting 7-of-14 from the field with four 3-pointers and five turnovers, many caused by the pressure defense of 6-foot-6 standout guard Nojel Eastern, who ended with seven points and has a 35-pound difference on the 180-pound Winston.
Winston was instrumental when Purdue cut MSU's 14-point lead to a 52-48 game with 11:29 remaining. Winston helped the Spartans regain command of the game with a pair of free throws and a fast break layup during a 6-0 spurt in the minute and a half that followed.
The Boilermakers (9-6, 2-2) were unable to cut MSU's lead below seven after that.
"I thought he was the individual staple, he was the difference tonight," Boilers coach Matt Painter said of Winston. "He does a great job at his craft and breaking it down and scoring for himself and creating things for his teammates. You've got to give him credit."
Winston's 35 minutes was second in the game to Purdue's Carsen Edwards, who entered Tuesday as the Big Ten's leading scorer (25.5 points per game) but was limited to 11.
"He gave you everything he could give," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "That's what great players do and he did do that."
The outing Tuesday ups Winston's average to 31.0 minutes through the first 16 games, which leads the team. The next highest mark is shooting guard Joshua Langford at 28.6, who's been out since Dec. 29 with a left ankle injury.
Winston said he knew Purdue was going to try and tire him out, but was confident he could endure it more than any defender could.
And despite the aches and pains of recovery the next day, Winston boasted he could play beyond 40 minutes, if needed.
"(If) you want to battle me, you want to constantly beat me up, anything like that, I’m gonna keep pushing and see if you can keep doing it the whole time I’m out there," he said. "It's hard to keep that pace the whole game."
Henry makes progress
Aaron Henry played 22 minutes and totaled four points, three rebounds and an assist Tuesday. The playing time passes the freshman's previous 21 minute career-high set against Texas earlier this season.
Henry was tasked with guarding Edwards when starter Matt McQuaid was on the bench. In all, Izzo felt Henry took a step forward with the performance.
"It was really Aaron, he was the only guy left (to defend Edwards) and he did a good job when it was on the line," Izzo said. "But he's just got to keep working."
MSU honors Tyler Trent
The Spartans honored late Purdue superfan Tyler Trent, who died on Jan. 1 after dealing with bone cancer at the age of 20, with a banner waved by the Izzone signed by the team and fans prior to the game. Izzo said he also plans to send customized shirts to Purdue's basketball team to remember Trent, who became a national symbol during the football program's 6-7 season.
"We wanted to give to the fund and the foundation and send our condolences to his family," Izzo said. "Matt (Painter), the football team did an incredible job. It was such a great story."