The Spartans came together as a family tonight. In fact, the entire Breslin Center did.
Following the death of senior guard Cassius Winston’s brother Zachary Winston on Saturday night, the Breslin Center held a moment of silence in Zachary’s honor before the No. 1 Spartans (1-1) defeated Binghamton (0-2), 100-47.
Winston, obviously emotional, was supported by his teammates on the court as well as his father Reginald and brother Khy from the stands. You could hear a pin drop.
“The hardest part of life that I'm learning is, you know, it never stops. It just keeps going," coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "I told them you can play with a broken heart. You know, that there's nothing wrong with admitting that."
Izzo described this game and this day, watching his team grieve both with and alongside Cassius, as "by far the most difficult day" in his career.
"When you're a coach, you're trained to kinda see a problem and then try to fix it," Izzo said. "And that's what we do. We see problems and we try to fix him. But you know, in this case there was nothing we could say or do that will make anything any better."
Izzo said that he received news of Zachary's death through a phone call late Saturday night. He then went to spend time with Cassius and his family.
"His brothers are the world to him (Cassius). I've never seen a kid over my years that was as close with his brothers," Izzo said, mentioning that Zachary, a sophomore guard at Division III Albion College, was "kind of a member of our team," as he grew close with Cassius' teammates during Cassius' time at Michigan State University.
“It’s been really hard the last 24 hours, just always being there with Cassius, that's been our main focus point," senior forward Kyle Ahrens said. "He’s our brother, Zach’s our brother, he’s still close to us each and every way."
Despite an emotional day, Winston started for the Spartans, maintaining his level-headedness and continuing to play as the smart decision maker he is. He scored 17 points and recorded 11 assists, marking the 13th double-double of his MSU career.
Winston smirked as he put up a layup late in the second half before checking out of the game to a standing ovation and overwhelming applause.
Bingham Outshines Binghamton
Sophomore forward Marcus Bingham Jr. scored nine points in a two-minute span in the first half, scoring mostly on putbacks. He finished with a career-high 13 points.
The Grand Rapids native also swatted three shots and nabbed six rebounds.
Freshman forward Julius Marble brought the crowd to its feet with 10:37 remaining in the game, when he caught a pass from sophomore guard Foster Loyer and threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk.
Fan favorite and freshman Steven Izzo saw the court as well in the last two minutes, and redshirt senior Connor George scored the team's 100th point on a free throw with 20 seconds left.
A dominant edge on the boards, 48-33, helped MSU get out in transition and score 20 fast-break points. The Spartans dunked 12 times Sunday night.
Though the performance was emphatic, the Spartans struggled again from beyond the three-point line. After a 5-of-26 performance from three in Tuesday's loss to No. 2 Kentucky, MSU shot 7-of-25.
After a difficult night for the team and community, the Spartans came together in support of each other.
"I was proud of Michigan State and proud of our community tonight because there was a warm feeling, you know, and it made me feel good," Izzo said.
The Spartans head back on the road to play at No. 12 Seton Hall this Thursday, Nov. 14 (8:30/FS1).
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