In a pacified version of Sunday’s Breslin Center, Michigan State (13-3, 5-0 Big Ten) downed Minnesota, 74-58, (8-7, 2-3 Big Ten) Thursday night.
Junior forward Xavier Tillman made due on coach Tom Izzo’s warning after Sunday’s victory over Michigan: “Don’t sleep on Tillman."
The Grand Rapids product started the game 3-of-3 shooting with four rebounds in the first four minutes, while senior guard Cassius Winston came back to Earth, going 2-of-8 in the first 20 minutes. Tillman finished with 19 points on a career-high 15 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Foster Loyer’s impact transcended his lone three-point make. Loyer’s ability to make timely threes as Winston’s understudy has come to fruition of late. The basket came with the shot clock expiring, putting MSU up 14-13 and reviving the Breslin Center crowd in the same breath.
"I'm getting more and more comfortable with Foster (Loyer)," Izzo said. "Sometimes they had such big guards, but I thought he did a good job."
Loyer finished with three, while Winston’s strong second half brought him to 27 points and six assists.
Tillman finished with a first half double-double, and the Spartans outshot Minnesota by 3%, but committing eight turnovers created a slim 36-32 halftime lead for MSU.
Freshman forward Julius Marble continues to garner increasingly meaningful minutes like he did Sunday. His steal and slam tied the score at 28 before sophomore forward Gabe Brown cleaned up a loose ball for a dunk of his own to take the lead on the next possession.
The dunk would be his only points in nine minutes.
Daniel Oturu gave MSU’s forwards fits, shooting 7-of-11 from the field in the first half for 14 points. The Spartans slowed him down, as he finished with 22.
The Golden Gophers would keep the contest within reach through a cleaner MSU second half. Gabe Kalscheur knocked down a three to reduce the lead to eight with 12 minutes to play.
Winston stepped back for a three of his own to bring the lead back to double digits as he began to heat up after a quiet first.
"Give Cassius Winston credit the second half for realizing that he didn't play well," Izzo said. "Instead of pouting about it, he did something about it."
He did the same on a drive with just under four minutes to play and followed it up with a three on the next possession, stretching the lead to 13.
The Spartans pulled away in the final minutes for a fifth-straight double digit victory and their eighth-straight overall.
Michigan State travels to Purdue, who comes off a double overtime loss against Michigan, to face the Boilermakers Sunday, Jan. 12 (12:00/CBS).
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