Spartans outlast UCLA and half court to take fifth at Maui Invitational
No. 3 Michigan State (5-3) outlasted UCLA (5-3) and the half court in the fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational Wednesday, holding on for a 75-62 victory.
Senior guard Cassius Winston returned to form, heating up from three late in the first half and sustaining a productive showing through the latter half. Winston finished with 20 points on three-of-eight shooting and five assists.
Sophomore forward Marcus Bingham made his second consecutive start and delivered early, recording two blocks in the early minutes to finish with three. Bingham finished scoreless.
After leading 26-23 after a period in which UCLA took seemingly every possession down to five seconds or less, the Spartans adjusted to playing in the half court, allowing no points off five turnovers while forcing seven Bruin turnovers.
Sophomore forward Gabe Brown contributed to a decent second-half lead, scoring 6 points and going two-of-three from long distance.
Former Spartan recruit and UCLA guard Tyger Campbell kept the contest close down the stretch, but with less than four minutes to play, junior forward Xavier Tillman recorded a block on the defensive end and ran the floor. Freshman guard Rocket Watts slashed and found Tillman for an emphatic slam to put the Spartans up 67-58 and give them a comfortable lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Tillman totaled 14 points and seven boards.
Watts all but iced the game with 1:32 remaining, receiving a feed from Brown for a fast-break three-point dagger. The freshman guard ended with a career-high 12 points.
Michigan State will return to East Lansing for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge to face Duke Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9:30 p.m.